Bush Men by Bradley McIlwain

Bush Men--McIlwain
Original photo by Bradley McIlwain

(for R.D.)

river rushes north
along aged Indian

trails cupping hands
with scout guides

and ghosts of foreign
navigators once lost

among mosquito marsh
and dense brush, asking

sustenance from
unforgiving earth

plucking berries
you picked in autumn

before she turned
gold to silver and

mud brown €”the
end of hunting

and the creation of
renewed paths, when

beauty paved the road to
harshness, we gathered

dancing in deer skins, to
the sacred drum, hoping

to find the heartbeat that
Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet who lives and works in rural Ontario as a freelance reporter, covering stories on local heritage, the arts, and human interest. The narratives in his poetry often stem from a desire to paint the natural world around him, and exploring its intimate connection with memory. In addition to the classics, he enjoys reading the work of M.G. Vassanji, Gregory Scofield, and Tom MacGregor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from Trent University, with a major in English Literature. His first book of poems, Fracture, is now available. You can also find his poetry on YouTube, or by visiting his blog. Mr. McIlwain has published with WIZ previously.

Eastern Exposure by Bradley McIlwain

Photo 3 by Bradley McIlwain

I walk barefoot through the grassy
your heaven — remembering your

green thumb and long sought after
lost to daydreams or disease.

The flowers you planted I never
the names of, something exotic,

I was never good in Latin. These
you spent
the most time with, watering them

like children. I think they listened to
you more.
Your sister says I have no business

gardening — I killed her Wisteria
the year before.
To her, mine is the thumb of death —

I’ve never been invited back. Today
the morning
turns her head toward pastel, more

self-reflective, enriching shaman’s
The willow we planted still stands

a Titan among the wind, but these
will spread their youthful petals

and die their best among the breeze.
the rain will come, and I’ll be gone.

I’ll have someone to look in on the


To read Bradley’s bio and more of his verse, go here and here.

Canadian Shield by Bradley McIlwain

Canadian skyscape by Bradley McIlwain

I keep the totem in my pocket
as a harp song sung with a

steady bear paw, wedged
between your photograph

and an eagle feather. Before
we parted, you whispered it

would serve me well on rainy
days when my road was too

much to stand on. This morning
I pulled the car to the shoulder

to watch an osprey hover with
a cold sun. I look out over rock

formations carved by hundred
year old shale, hold my breath

and chant.


To read more of Bradley’s poetry and his bio, go here.