Poem for Local Heroes, Virtue & Moir

This poem is dedicated to London’s spectacular local heroes and Canada’s most decorated ice dance team, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  We’re celebrating their return to competition after a two-year hiatus.

As if you are leaping in the air

As if you are leaping in the air
with Virtue and Moir. As if you
are running perfect simulation.

Lift and fly. Figures are skating,
whirling to wild quads like Sufis
dancing in Dervish reverence.

Perfection swirls along an unseen
slip of water that allows for glide,
ice two inches thick. Blades glint.

Fantasy hovers, floats flawlessly,
describing meticulous arcs on ice,

in air. Geometry touched by magic,
projection spun on glass surface.

Le Petit Prince and his Rose criss-
cross the ice to mirror our neurons
effortlessly after ruthless practice.

One haptic system rings in tune with
the other not by happenstance but
exquisite design, creating the perfect

illusion of romance. This pair knows
their true trick is always in landing home.


The poem won second prize in Poetry London’s 2015 Contest. I read it at Landon Library on March 25.

The video and poem are up at Central Library London, http://www.londonpubliclibrary.ca/blog/poetry-london-contest-winner-penn-kemp, and on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGAOOldLE98.

The winning poems are up on http://www.poetrylondon.ca/index.php?/current/contest/ and posted throughout London Libraries all Poetry Month along with videos of our reading at Landon Library!

Thanks to Poetry London!

See also http://www.lfpress.com/2015/03/26/kemps-winning-verses-salutes-our-olympians.

Some Talk Magic cover

The photo of daughter Amanda and me is in Some Talk Magic, Ergo Productions.  Credit: Elizabeth Cunningham.  Below are Amanda and her daughter Ula with Benny the Bouvier!



Valentine Poem

Heart to Art

Romance of the rose in part-
icular scent, texture, hue
carried and cared
for from you.

Roses reside inside, arriving
by scent from smooth petal
scarlet or white. Roses arrive
and rest

They rest not knowing
the future as I do and so the rest
is easy before

rust nips at the coiling edge of
hope, nips and tucks, curtails, till
petal droops, curls and drops
on stone.

Heart suspends suspense
and pauses, skips the beat
to bear what can’t be

The heart does not grow over.
It grows through the lump in
the throat and out the mouth—
new birth of sorts, of change.

Heart knows its kind, knows its
own, knows as well kind
words. They too can cut
clear through skin, so many
layers meaning… what?

To stay kind
of alive in metaphor— beating
beating heart, the rhythm of
survival, thriving.

Your Hermes to my Hestia,

for Gavin, Beloved


Poem: “Given a Line”

Given a Line

When a line stares at you too
long, what is it demanding?
Not enough said or too much
down in black against white?

While Klee takes a line for a walk
Cash walks the line and you type
a line already over exposed on
the blank but measured screen.

The line requests reply in-
quiring Why? Plaintive as
a choir in plainsong. Empty
as a needle eye and just as full.

What lies behind the line that
lies so flatly on the page? Planes
of undifferentiated disparity in
two dimensions? Perception

shrunk to the length and
width of a white sheet for-
getting depth for breadth.

Breath forgotten,
squeezed onto even
surface. Plain but not

simple. Simple but
not easy. Eased into
familiar complicity
the iterative wanders

through uninvestigated realms
of possibility not yet verbalized
in reams of rhyme and story told,
spewing reasons all their own.

A patter of cliché recurs at random
when the pat lie surfaces all too
conveniently, slips into place as if
pattern might solve that old puzzle

you need to articulate again and
again. What springs to mind can be
sometimes appropriate, sometimes
appropriated. Mind the gap to grasp

indifferent reminders of what might
remain reflexive difference. A gift
of involuntary association demands
alert reaction to discern what could

be learned, what spurned and what
just is. Carried over. To the next
poem where Why echoes down the
row. Give that piece your best regards.

“Given a Line” by Penn Kemp appears in CV2. Contemporary Verse 2. V.38.3, Winter 2016.
Editors: Clarise Foster and Lori Cayer.