Sunday, July 15, 2007


Ellen S. Jaffe is a writer and poet living in Hamilton. She has published "Writing Your Way: Creating a Personal Journal"(Sumach Press, 2001), "Water Children,"a collection of poetry (Mini-Mocho Press, 2002), and "Feast of Lights," a young-adult novel (Sumach Press, 2006). Her poetry and short fiction have also been published in various journals, including, Hammered Out, CV2, Capilano Review, Kairos, and Fireweed. She has been a judge for Power of the Pen Literary Competition for young people, the League of Canadian Poets youth poetry prize, the Cambridge Writers Collective, and the Hart House (U. of Toronto) poetry competition. She won Second Prize in the 2006 Silver Hammer Awards and is twice winner of the Arts Hamilton Literary Awards. She has also received awards from the Cambridge Writers Collective, and the Tidepool Prize (2000).

Here are a couple of sports poems by Ellen:


There has to be a poem somewhere in this hockey game,
especially since it’s the Maple Leafs,
and tickets won in a charity draw,
pink ribbons to fight breast cancer.
The incongruity of it all! I picture a face-off
between battle-scarred centres and wingers,
and battle-scarred mastectomy survivors,
fighting for their lives, laying their fate on the blue line.
But now it’s just me, the lady poet,
lost in the crowd at the Air Canada Centre in February.
I’m more of a baseball fan myself,
grew up with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the boys of summer,
loping leisurely compared to these men of mid-winter
speeding across the ice. They shoot, they score,
while halfway across the world,
people dodge bullets, not balls,
and gunshots sound louder than slapshots.
Even in downtown Toronto, blocks from the arena,
children are dying, not playing,
shooting up, not shooting goals.
We all pay penalties these days,
facing off against the unknown
as the game goes into overtime.
Suddenly it’s spring again in Ontario.
Late snow falls like lacy blossoms, and it’s time
once again for my mammogram, each breast
tried and tested. I win this round, but I’m never
home free. The clock’s ticking, our cells are time bombs,
even a casual plan can end in disaster, or sudden death.
There has to be a poem here somewhere, tied up in pink ribbon,
sweetened with maple syrup tapped
fresh this spring among the fallen leaves.

(published in “Water Children”, Mini Mocho Press, Hamilton, 2002).

Watching the Blue Jays, at the Stadium formerly known as Sky Dome
(a sonnet of sorts).

My father never went to a ball game,
At least, not when I knew him.
We listened on radio, watched on TV, safe in
the comfort of home; we cheered for different home-teams –
New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, rarely the Giants.
Only child, a girl, I didn’t play, but learned all the rules,
enjoyed the slow, loping rhythms, the cool
jazz of strikes, hits, balls, curving around those diamonds –

“Ya gotta have heart!”

We measured time in innings, not in hours.
The long and short of it is, the last
time I saw him, he counted the score

on his fingers; numbers dead on, though language was past.
Now I sit watching the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre,
nine years and more later,
look up at the dome of the sky, hold him fast.

(Published in Parchment magazine, # 14, 2005-06)


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