The Speaker Unaccustomed to Such Oratory Feats

The speaker – unaccustomed
to such oratory feats –
cleared his throat, a bit too loudly,
while he fumbled through his sheets.

The crowd sensed, early on,
that they were in for a rough ride –
when he called the “ladies” “laddies”
and knocked the podium off side.

It teetered like a clanging gong upon
the discombobulated stage;
and when he tried to set it right
off flew, his last speech page.

Soaring high atop the group –
a dizzy, darting, dazed white dove –
elusively zig-zagging,
landing on the light above.

But still the speaker moiled on –
and on – with his tall task.
He had come to speak and speak, he did.
What more could people ask?

It’s true:  he rambled on somewhat
and forgot where he was going.
But, by then, he had them all on board
without his even knowing.

They agonized each coming word
and prayed that that man knew it.
The only thing that mattered now:
just let the guy get through it.

Every jaw was clenched with dread.
Hands gripped in fists that pleaded.
Perspiration ran like rivers
as they willed the words he needed.

And, when at last, he’d “Um’ed” his last –
and the speech ground to an ending;
they applauded with great gratitude.
– And no one was pretending.


Blue-on-Blue (a Villanelle)

peace is blue-on-blue where sky meets sea
firmament to water glints that soar
transcendent in the mighty majesty

a stirring sight so glorious and free
it fills:  that which the human heart aches for
peace is blue-on-blue where sky meets sea

rippling waves shush with serenity
my burdens fall away, my soul restored
transcendent in the mighty majesty

as breaths of ocean breezes waft round me
sea foam clouds roll gently to the shore
peace is blue-on-blue where sky meets sea

every hue of heaven – ecstasy –
awestruck, as far as eyes can see and more
transcendent in the mighty majesty

I am imbued with joy and empathy
the spirit earth runs through me to my core
peace is blue-on-blue where sky meets sea
transcendent in the mighty majesty


Pillars of the Earth (a Sonnet)

beside the road we walk, stand ancient oaks:
gnarled, crusted – stems of pewter gray
adorned with versicolored fluttered cloaks
– grand wizened sentinels – that awe the day …
battle scarred bark over amber heart –
having come as far as trees can come:
man’s masterpieces pale to nature’s art:
such majesty from seedlings, long begun …
they mesmerize me in their constancy
– cleansing air and holding up the sky –
while humankind inflicts inanity
on that which nature works to rectify.

pillars of the earth, stir us to care
– gently – for this planet that we share.


Wendy Bourke lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes, goes on long rambling walks gathering photos and inspiration – and hangs out with her family (especially her two young grandsons).  After a life loving words and scribbling poetry lines on pizza boxes and used envelopes, Wendy finally got down to writing “in earnest” and four years ago, began posting poetry on her poetry blog and submitting it for publication.  She received first prize in the Ontario Poetry Society’s Sparkle and Shine contest in 2014 and her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, journals and chapbooks.

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7 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Really enjoyed these poems and the Oratory piece made me laugh out loud – yes, as an experienced public speaker, frequently having to endure what has gone before me, that last line says it all! Very well observed and written.

    • Wendy Bourke

      Thank you. I’ve heard it said that – for many speakers – Fear of Public Speaking is second only to Fear of Death. Being a reluctant guess speaker, upon occasion, myself – I related to that particular phobia … and my imagination would conceive of every possible doomsday scenario whenever I was asked to face an audience. But then, someone suggested that the people who came to hear me speak, wanted me to do well – if I believed that, it would become much easier. And thus, this poem was conceived.

      • James Sale

        Yes, Wendy – I have heard fear of public speaking is worse than the fear of death, which seems unbelievable, but you’d be amazed at the number of ‘trainers of public speakers’ who trot out that factoid regularly as they fill their courses! Anyway, the important thing: excellent poem, well done!

  2. Amy Foreman

    I really liked the first piece, which I read aloud to my family. My kids laughed, and we all agreed that we have endured similar speeches by those “unaccustomed to such oratory feats.” The applause at the end is always sincere! Thank you for brightening our morning!

  3. Dona Fox

    The first poem started my day with a laugh also then I looked at the accompanying picture and smiled again. I always enjoy and appreciate the chosen art. The second two poems are beautiful. Thank you.

    • Wendy Bourke

      Yes, they’ve done a wonderful job selecting the artwork. Several friends, who’ve visited the site, have commented on it.


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