Fine Print

Wishing you a Happy Robbie Burns Day.

I noticed a call for submissions in a recent school newsletter for a poetry competition in celebration of Robbie Burns Night. First Prize will be awarded $200 which was motivation enough for me. Staring at the thumbnail portrait of Mr. Burns I thought two things – this is quite a niche poetry competition and would being a descendant of a MacDonald from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia be considered Scottish enough to take up this challenge?

I spent a very nice Sunday afternoon listening to highland reels on Spotify and studying Robbie’s poetry, his style and stanzas, his subject matter, and his many love interests. More than 50 of his poems were written in the Burns stanza which is written in AAABAB style with A lines having 6 syllables and B lines containing 4 syllables. After a few hours and drafts I finished with what I thought was a fair attempt at honouring Robbie’s legacy and influence on Scottish arts, poetry, and Scottish nationalism.

After feeling quite content with the final product and receiving positive feedback from my lovely and patient family and friends, I did a quick search for the top three poems from last year’s competition to make sure all our poems about Robbie Burns and Scotland weren’t too similar!

Well to my surprise — it was just a regular poetry competition! And none of the past winners, not one, was about Scottish nationalism and republicanism.

But alas, I was already finished and am too stubborn to backtrack. And so, I present my entry, in Robbie’s honour. Wish me luck 🙂

“Home Rule”
By: Maggie de Barra

A toast upon a distant shore,
To honour those who’ve gone before,
To hear the Rampant Lion’s roar,
Over the lea.
As one, we mourn, for we want more,
Our liberty.

Beneath a howling wind, we’re numb,
To recognize the distant drum,
And hear within, our own heart’s thrum.
Sweet victory,
She calls to us, to claim freedom,
Our sovereignty.

A gift so fine, your words, we heard,
A moment where a nation stirred,
Together now, a debt incurred,
Our solemn plea,
To stand alone, onwards now spurred,
We do decree:

We’re strong as warp in Gretna Green,
And Thistle sharp in Aberdeen,
A call to all clans in between,
Rise up from your knee.
We serve no foreign king nor queen,
For Scotland is free.

Update January 26, 2022: I’m pleased to say this won Best Public Policy Policy Poem last night and I will be adding prize winning poet to my twitter bio, linkedin, and resume.


Ode to a Foam Roller

MEC Race One: The Winter Run 2016

MEC Race One 2016

You thought that it would be so fun, to go out for a winter run.
Pounding on the pavement, so out into the cold you went.
Racing bros and sisters, avoiding all the blisters.
Toenails turning black and blue, all the different rainbow hues.
But in your noble hustle, you tore a leg muscle.
A pack of have nots and the haves, and none of them can move their calves.
You’ve got some wonky ligaments, a flight of stairs will make you wince.
A pirate with his wooden pegs, limping on your shaky legs.
All the way to the gym, you cry out – a sacred hymn.
Grab the tube to knead it out, the knots are strong, you twist and shout.
Pressing through, you’re in the zone. Thank the god who made this foam.
Are these races worth the toll? You ask yourself, as you roll.
Every muscle, just as tight. Pain threshold rising like a kite.
Have I ever been this sore? Is it strange that I want more?
I’m an addict, need to use, as I lace up my running shoes.
On the road or at the gym, all I ever do is win.

*mic drop*

MEC Race One 2016