Stefan A. Rose
Writing: Holding The Fort poems

Holding The Fort - Project Description
Holding The Fort - Poems (Excerpted)

Holding The Fort - Project Description

Holding The Fort is a pair of 28-page chapbooks by Stefan A. Rose, published in conjunction with the 2013 exhibition of the Holding The Fort series of 8"x20" photographs and poems at Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario as part of No Boundary Changes: 1813-2013, curated by Lydia Burggraaf. The exhibition was produced as part of the Cultural Odyssey commemmorating the 2013 Bicentennial of War of 1812 Battle Of The Thames. The chapbooks were designed by Stefan A. Rose, printed by the print shop at Eagle's Flight in Guelph.

Holding The Fort explores reconstructed military sites in Eastern Canada in relation to two War of 1812 soldiers, Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Henry Bruyeres and Lieutenant-Colonel John Vincent.

Bruyeres was a Montreal-born military engineer who died during the war after he completed construction and reconstruction of several forts along Lake Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula; Vincent was an Irish-born career soldier familiar with the terrain surrounding those fortifications, who led a night battle against the Americans yet reappeared in a daze three days later without his hat, horse, sword, and rifle unaware of the circumstances of the conflict.

By using different styles of poetry – poems as letters from Bruyeres to his wife, or free verse for Vincent’s stream of consciousness – their stories emphasize the contrasts in their lives. Bruyeres behind the walls, on a seemingly intuited death-march as his body fails him, Vincent out in the elements without protection, closer to his deadly opponents, yet able to survive, each looking to the stars for different reasons. One left this earth during the war, the other left this country after the war, and both made it into recorded history.

These men, as part of the occupying colonization force of Canada, were familiar with many of the sites pictured in the 8”x20” photographs, and the poems relaying their stories create parallel narratives as entry points to view the fort images in a different light in context with history and the present.

More information about Holding The Fort is available on this website in Photo - Holding The Fort.

Holding The Fort - Poems (Excerpted)

Holding The Fort - John Vincent poems


To revile at dawn:
Dark night leads on
Into a coming blacker day;
Yet again I have not
Slept a wink, dreamed
Not of angels, but of deaths.


True enough, I long for safety
Of forts – I’m soft from barracks
I seem to have suffered a hard fall.
That, and I lost Fort George, lost
York too, but I’ll recover ground,
Make Brock’s ghost proud:
Vincit Veritas.

Holding The Fort - Ralph Henry Bruyeres poems


Dear Janet,
My site survey’s the stuff of chatter:
Nary a provincial’s seen a transit,
Angle tables, and lead plumb; no dead
     reckoning for me.
In their defense, it’s a lot of shouting
And arm-waving, stone-pulling, barely
Different from an estimable invasion.
My scientific method for engineering
Success: measured approaches, far-sighted
Calculating even Galileo would be proud of.
If I had a bigger telescope, I’d look
For Venus, and point in your direction.


Dear Janet,
Manual labour’s benefit is space:
I spend too much time thinking.
Each stone’s weighty chunk, its heft,
Comes with a satisfying idea,
A push and grinding into place –
These are permanent ideals taking shape.
I know how to build and rebuild
Better, as ordered and fixed
As the constellations. I wish
To take leave and see you every night.

main writing
Copyright 2008 Stefan A. Rose. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited.