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Jul 2014 · 678
Forget it!
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
waited for your call,
your offering of glib excuses-
a missed connection,
damp leaves on the line?

But all I hear is
the kettle's whining cry
telling me your time is up, the last train has departed.
Gathering up the useless plates,
the sad bouquets,
the bitter crumbs of what remains,
I realise your face that never was
is neither here nor there-
a flame burnt out
before the match was struck.
second stanza of my poem 'Forget-me-not'.
Jul 2014 · 545
Warning - Keep off!
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
Greener grass - same blades
Jul 2014 · 577
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
I awoke by the sea to a fearful crashing,
the ground juddering under me.
In the distance, ribbons of laughter-
the shape of human life.
I had not forgotten.

From an immense past,
a thread of light drew me back.
This was my dream-plan.
This is what I asked for.

I lift my head to look.
It wavers on its weak stalk.
Without command, my arm-stumps
jut out at odd angles,
as if about to take me with them
somewhere.....too soon.
They have a mind of their own.

Uplifted, I am blessed
with a peaceful crown of blue
from which a sweet-salt tang
sharpens a wild desire...

I want the air,
I want to push back the hampering twigs,
to hang on thermals in an unlimited sky
where I can chase my bird-shadow
over the hardened earth.

But I must wait for the sky to offer itself,
wait for the light to whisper-
It's time. Time to begin again,
to take a wiser flight.
To be free
as a bird.
Jul 2014 · 569
First Fruit
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
Today is the first day of Spring,
a significant moment when we shift into
a different rhythm of sleep and wakefulness.
When the dark turns back on itself
like thick rind peeled from a fruit
to reveal its golden glow.

That warm feeling returns,
not just superficially - much deeper.
Time has chance to saunter - people do too.
They find a moment to talk with each other-
too hot to rush off to wherever it is they're going.


Queueing in the supermarket requires patience.
People casually chat at the checkout
exchanging snippets of gossip as though
they've not spoken to a soul all winter.

Patiently I wait in line at the rapid-serve
with my punnet of strawberries,
their tempting fragrance filling my nostrils.

For a moment I am elsewhere-
in a sunlit field, hovering over row on row
of undulating furrows, where shy fruit
hides under spread leaves-
the ones that got away you might say.

Abruptly, my distant view's obscured
by an unfamiliar voice:

You are English-yes?

I had been studying his back,
muffled in a woolly facade of Tweed.
For him, it was still Winter.

Ah - An English rose - yes!

He tells me how I resemble his wife
and how she adored strawberries.

(simultaneously he waves over his shoulder
to somewhere in the past)

He says he will never forget her,
that once you stop remembering,
eighty years of life becomes meaningless.

A warmness spreads between us
like the weight of a cello concerto.
A kind of sad happiness.

Later in the day, under the almond tree,
I **** on season's first fruit.
My tongue curls around a mouthful of
forgotten language.
I am not disappointed.
It is impossible to believe how good it tastes-
like life sometimes,
when strangers offer a few kind words,
filling the days with sweetness-
the Summer coming.
A true happening. People are SO friendly here.
Jul 2014 · 485
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
When I am gone from here,
when I have drifted into the ether,
my thoughts will continue.
Long after you've forgotten how to sing,
they will be a song for your eyes.

These are my children
nurtured over breakfasting tables,
coming alive at four a.m.
uneasy in their sleep.

And you will ask:
Is this how she spent her time
behind that pensive gaze?
Was the sky really that naked?

I won't mind if you skip the daisies,
they're not your beau ideal.
I won't mind if you dig deep into their roots,
they are already dead.

Magically you will be lured into me-
Bee for my bell-flower, asking:
Is this how she spent her days,
gazing into the distance?
Planning the future,
silently moving on.
Jul 2014 · 455
Wild Thing
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
From the side of the hill
my sight captures flat pasture,
part orchard,
part garden.

A full moon illuminates
my ready-trotted route
glistening with mud.
At its end, a rolled hollow,
a lit tree-
bed and breakfast.

This is what I live for,
how I survive.
I don't ask for much,
ignorant to what's on the other side.
I know my limits.

Further up the *****
there are more mouths,
dug out, living in brambles,
a natural, comfortable camouflage-
a bed of roses.

When I sleep,
in the blink of an eye
you vanish,
dreams exploding blood and gore
to which I once bore witness.

I try to ignore the intrusion.

What goes on in daylight
belongs to you.
How can you live in Paradise
with death on your side?

The bulk of me shudders to think!

Whatever happened to passion?
You're pleased as a starved flea
finding a host.
Everything has its predator-
yours is your own!

Sniffing the air,
I smell your cold heart
raw and pumping,
seeking a pastime
to glitter your world
at our expense.

Eat what you've already murdered,
bought, hoarded in your larder!
You don't need another corpse
on your conscience.

If you lived simply by instinct,
what would you do?
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
Winters can be tedious.
Sun dips into early dusk.
A dead fire refuses to ignite.

There's a quick repetition
of opening and closing blinds
over a barred window.

In need of reflection
I search a familiar face
in an unfamiliar landscape.

I have her in my grasp,
half illusion, half real,
a symbolic mask denies
her true face,

her glittering crown
divides us by its radiance.

Groping in darkness,
I stumble over objects
of wood and stone,
my unsteady tread tripping
over their contours.

I light a candle.

Bathed in amber light,
our shadows merge.

A new door opens,
stretching the perspective.
No formal borders here,
they wouldn't survive
the present climate.

In their place,
intricately carved
figureheads and totems-
a vision of the past.

My eye is a camera,
retinas branded with imagery
for the photographer's delight-
coloured pebbles, carved wooden animals,
tin cans, bones.....

....A Glass Sentinel
(though she isn't visible)
I can see right through her-
a vision of smokescreens
and subterfuge.

Past stumps of driftwood,
past the uncut grass,
a few flowers... the fabricated backdrop
of a burning house, black smoke

At the open door -
The Guardian,
(I know her inside out)
(she didn't bat an eye)
defiant in a new skin,
a softer version-
The Mother protecting her children,
arms splayed, prepared
for fight or flight.

A russet flame
Licking her spine exhales
'Get out of my way!'
but she wasn't listening.

Smile fixed,
eyes of a phoenix,
a lion,
a raptor,
We all need feeding,
but not this way!

Throw me a cloth,
a napkin,
a man-size tissue
a lifeline!

She wanted this,
no, wished it-
this symbolism,
this burning of ironic portraits,
to clear the deck,
make way for new.

It shook the house,
its fate sealed behind closed doors.

I compose myself,
pull her back from the perilous edge,
gather her in my arms.

Fragments of shattered words
flutter in the ether.

What is real?
What is fiction?
A carbon copy of thousands?
A charred corner?

A forgotten candle?

'Eating fire' is a risky business
but can attract a large audience.
Jul 2014 · 590
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
Love's the song of the Oriole,
sleek as silk ribbons
pulled from summer's dress.

Trees sigh, relaxed in a warm wind,
gently flexing each golden note.

Love's a bird in flight.
When your heart takes wing,
prepare to be astounded.
Jul 2014 · 2.0k
The Pleasure of Cherries.
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
As an offering of peace
she brought him cherries
to sweeten the tense air.

Plump black cherries
mouthwateringly ripe,
polished to perfection.

'Shall I come with my brimming bowl?'
she asked.
'Shall we selfishly gorge in secret before
they are over?'

Desiring her sweetness
he feathered her with kisses,
dropped the blind against
a flaming sun and callers-
yielded to sweetness.

Sweet her cherried fingers,
sweet her skin, her lips,
her tongue.

She plied him with cherries,
fed his desire stalk after stalk,
the whole room burnished
with passion.

When twilight seeped in,
they lay cherry - heavy,
clinging to sweetness.

'The secret is ours, he teased,
thoughts turned towards
a handful of dropped,
forgotten stones.
Jul 2014 · 1.1k
The Awakening.
Caroline Grace Jul 2014
Let the diminished light of winter
creep through the slats of the window blind.
Let it climb rung by rung
until hunger shakes off excessive sleep.

Let early morning frosts shock
the candelabra of the blackened fig
shivering in half-light.
Let it go naked.

Let the woodpecker cling to a sham tree,
tap-tapping his message in code.
Let him take to the air, cackling
at his own folly.

Let the shadowless snake coil
in venomous dreams,
as curled roots slumber
under the rain-soaked earth.

Let winter declare its secret cargo!
Let it be spring!

when the candles of the fig burst into leaf-flame,
when the speckled woodpecker discovers a thick forest,
and the green-gold snake trails the length of her belly through long grasses.

Let our passions rise like sun on the window blinds,
when the lightness of spring is upon us.
Feb 2014 · 707
Penelope remembers...
Caroline Grace Feb 2014
For many seasons I awaited your return,
restless on the shore of a great sea,
hair blown wild by brackish winds,
my tapestry unwoven.
For many moons I searched the distant line
where Neptune's hand slices through the sky
beyond the eye's perception.

How frenzied my hands became,
sifting for mythical remains
of boat, of flesh, of washed bones.
From carved crib to wrecked vessel,
your realm was all but stolen,

Then lifted from night's shadow,
on a zephyr's breath, you came
to heal the fever of my sorrow,
my heart grown heavy with longing.

I recall that fateful day, how I wept
while you unfolded wondrous tales
as we lay in half-shade beneath our tree of life.
Between its leaves shines love -
the eternal light,
burning in the heart of Ithaca.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 763
The decision.
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
I have decided to go home a different way.

I mean to avoid your favourite liquor store and
the waste ground littered with broken bottles
and piles of ****
where I saw you push aside the light.

I won't stick around to be slaughtered like a trapped rat,
or listen to your blizzard of extinct promises-
struck dumb by 'a few good words'.

Killing time will have to wait,
'coz I've made up my mind.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 750
Jam today.
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
On the day his temper boiled,
she'd counted fourteen jars,
pleased with her achievement.
Then Vesuvius erupted
like the pan of orange jam.

He slammed out and left her
with fourteen jars made just
for him  by the woman whose
saddened heart sank to the bottom
of each bitter ***.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 611
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
I work hard to keep you alive,
wrapped in delicate feathers of angel wings.
It's a sacred passion of mine.

For you it's not enough
you always want more.
Grain by grain I am dissolving like a headache cure.

Rue the day when soft wings lift
to find a heart so underwhelmed,
my words engraved on it
in past tense.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 940
The Doctor.
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
Once a month the doctor visits.
She makes her trip inland, driving from
her coastal town to our village
hidden in the hills.

Here, people rarely get sick.
They say whatever's carried in the wind
stops them getting dizzy in the heat.
They believe in the hills,
gifted with sweet smelling herbs
waiting for the miracle of alchemy
to transform them into oils, infusions,
syrups and decoctions-
feverfew for headaches, fennel for digestion,
lavender for dreaming.
The doctor's young,so has an open mind.
Never critical, she's always willing to listen.

Most days, she's woken by the ocean
on its way to demolish the dunes.
Dragged back by an invisible force,
it roars in frustration, straining
like a tethered beast demanding
to do what it pleases.
But Earth won't allow it just yet
and the ocean knows who's in charge,
the rules will change only when She decides.

The doctor's irritated.
She can't see the ocean any more,
her view's obscured by unfinished business-
silent carcasses of half-built villas.
She can taste the salt.
Feeling trapped, she would like to find shelter
in another skin.

But today, her cure is in the hills.
At her door, she waits for the mist to lift.
It whispers there are other choices.
To unlock another door while she still has time.


In each on of us there survives an intuitive preference
for all things natural. The great continuum of life that
contains and sustains us.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 662
Counting the cost.
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
Through this monumental city
a troubled river runs under an ancient bridge.
It's hardly flowing.
There's just enough depth to reflect
the accumulation of discarded waste -
the sum of man's detritus.

At its edge, a man stretches his legs
over long shadows
cast by a line of Jacarandas.
These are his invisible boundaries.
He believes if he stepped out of their shade
he would sink back into the quicksand of his past.

It was easy for him to give up.
He just slipped through a gap to where
the source of an old torment was quite forgotten.

This is where he spends his day.
On the hour precisely, with a regular bell for measure
absorbed in silent calculations,
counting and recounting the length of his existence-
a short span between life and certain death.

He's too busy to notice a sanctimonious world
taunting from its own
'He's not all there' it whispers,
'he's in a foreign place.'

But it doesn't put him off his stride.
He's miles away on a carpet of heavenly blue
tethered to a dream,
where mocking birds fly over his head,
and his dog, streets ahead, barks urgently
waiting for him to catch up.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 505
Being there
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
I don't know why your voice was so near and you were not.
I turned as in a dream to listen,
but your fragmented words scattered in the wind.
Far side of the garden,  I caught  you crush the grieving lilies,
hand raised as if to say goodbye.
Or was it there to shield your eyes against a blinding light,
that took you with the moon behind the hill?

Where did you go that I could not follow?

Loneliness obscures all reason, refuses truth,
that is to say-
when you are lost, nothing is clear.

Transfixed but strangely calm,
I waited for your backward glance,
your promise of return,
an explanation.
Then from the light, you reached to cast a silver thread,
that one redeeming ray of hope that drew me closer to the truth.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 833
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
You humans, who suffer your own judgement, tremble
from the threat of thunder over the earth.
You, who stand in authority over all things,
enslaved by belief, have yet to enter our language.

You are a broken instrument
locked in the key of non-comprehension,
a three-stringed violin,
you cannot play our music.

A song of joy filters through our species.
It glitters beneath your heels,
weaves itself through networks of blanched roots,
rippling like a silent scream.

Come closer! We beckon with our arms to greet,
but as with your ancients, the waves simply slacken and die,
proof that the bond between us dissipated
with your evolution of misguided contempt.

Beyond the sun's final blaze
we will become larger than our stilted shadows,
be the final ***** of acid under your skin.
That bright current between us
will dawn on you too late as we proceed to
undermine the remnants of your eyes,
the organs of your narrow vision.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 768
Tornado (one year on)
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
This is where it almost blew us away.
Where stunned silence gave way to
chainsaws and sirens,
where a whole community rolled up
its chequered sleeves in solidarity,
brought tractors and barrows,
ladders and axes and enough rope
to pull it all together.

(we've seen it all on screen)

It split bare trees.
Some lay paralysed,
varicosed roots flung skywards.
Others, headless, fixed like totems
gave a new slant of light to the polished cobbles.

Some were touched, others not.
Some cursed God's reasoning,
others sure of scientific fact.
The abyss did not divide them.

Peace coincided with the setting sun.
The wailing of sirens and chainsaws gave way
to the sound of unadulterated joy.
(Earth allows these moments-
they are her children.)

In a battle of strength, small hands
locked in solidarity, made way for life.
Straining against an opposing force,
tugging on a rope
where the trick is to stay grounded,
to hold on and not let go.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 599
We've fucked it up!
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
Mine was a clean house,
a free, open house
with no restrictions, no frontiers,
naturally landscaped as far as one could see.

For you it was not enough.
You got bored with the view,
took advantage of my kindness.

You defiled my path.
You **** in my rivers,
polluted my sky with your chemical smell.
You tampered with my cooling apparatus,
now the sun can't bounce back.

But talking to you is a waste of time.
You just sit back and sneer,
filling your pockets with stolen hope.

It's too late for a second chance.
You've ****** it up!
Now go find me a brush!

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 510
Up the garden path
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
You hoped for a mansion
but all you got was a ruined house,
abandoned, without care.
It was not what you expected.

A kind of wildness has crept into you-
unpredictable, you have become too slippery for me.

But I'm not concerned with that right now.
I'm too intent on pressing my nose to the window,
fogging the glass with my breath,

(Weird how this cracked pane bends the light)

trying to decipher your contours
as you snake away in stony silence,

halting abruptly at the iron gate
where the grazing pasture seems greener,
much sleeker than your own.

Someday soon, you'll give up your crazy meanderings.
Heed my words!
But not yet-
not until I shatter you.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 869
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
We are in the middle of a recession. It'***** us all in some way or another.
It's happened in the past - history repeating itself.
The elderly have seen it all before. They remember the queues for food,
where everyone got their fair share, when it was gone, they had to make do.

My friend has been laid off from work, and the cottage she rents is to be sold
by the landlord. He's feeling the pinch too, so has no choice.
It's a small place with two rooms, but, she tells me, at least she has a roof over her head –
for now.

As we sit together under the bare trees, she pours it all out. Her future looks gloomy,
like the sky – cumulus building. That's when the rain starts.
My friend's mascara begins to run in inky streaks. She wipes her cheeks with a kleenex
as best she can, before we hurry to shelter in a nearby cafe.

We are the only people in there. As we wait, the owner tells us he's closing down
at the end of the week, that customer numbers have dwindled and those who do come,
sit with an expresso for hours on end, watching the T.V. -
that way, they're saving on fuel.

We take our coffees over to the window. The rain has eased off a little,
so we sit watching the puddles reflect an oppressive sky.

My friend explains how she may have to leave the area to look for work,
like so many have already done.
I tell her she can stay with me until she finds another place, that this is where she belongs,
where we can all help one another however difficult things might get.

Our voices chime around the empty cafe echoing the sentiments of so many people.

Stepping into the street, we are met by the dazzle of wet cobbles.
Grass verges sparkle with fresh rain, and a tangerine tree, dripping with fruit
droops over a solid iron gate, its bobbing lanterns shining with the colour of sun.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Jan 2014 · 604
Stratospheric (a dream)
Caroline Grace Jan 2014
My dream takes me on a journey- big dream, big sky,
sea all around. Silent as a galaxy.

Flying is easy- I have simply to think it.
I rise weightless into a wilderness of imagined blue,
hovering over the wrinkled beach of my bed,
my mind a white butterfly,

And there I find you, dizzy with excessive light,
floundering at the sky's edge, head in the clouds
looking for silver.

Drawing me close, I fall into the net of your arms,
that safe place you've always made for me,
your hands tightly clasped behind my back.
We feed from each others breath,
aware of the sudden gravity between us.

But you are not as I remember.
Your face smoothed of all detectable emotion,
your eyes, not as they were, but exquisite diamonds
piercing through wads of cotton cloud,
until you become part of them-
a neat trick!

Shuddering, wounded,
lightly I descend into weeping,
I spread the sails of my arms,
tacking on a downward draught
until I find my feet anchored,
eased into familiar sheets.

A new light dawns on me,
wipes dry the lids of my eyes.
The clock reads four,
acid, luminous,
and there you are, in the kitchen,
slurping coffee from a chipped cup,
your free hand rattling the slats of the window blind.

I reach out for you, but your image dissolves
like paper in rain.
Aware of the mind's deception,
I remain wreathed in sleep,
and though this is still a dream,
you will always be a part of it.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2014
Caroline Grace Apr 2013
This year, Spring has been stopped in its tracks.
Incessant rain has driven life underground,
so as a diversion, we're putting on a play.

It's not the real world, rather a representation of it.

The director is a control freak, so her role is perfect-
she can dictate without having to act.

Rehearsals take place in the Philharmonic Hall where the local
band used to practice. But the young have all gone to the city
looking for work, so the drum kit in the corner stays shrouded
in a black cloth and the unplayed snooker table supports our props.

On the stage, the backdrop is dominated by a church.
Its steeple points to God only knows where, aiming to instill pure thoughts.
Impossible to believe, its true aim is to inject fear into its people-
depending on your point of view.

The main player likes to be different. He turns up.
A vain attempt to give some structure to his life.
Late as usual, he's unshaven, and drowsy with wine.
No one can decide whether he's in character or himself.

Waiting for our cue, we stand on the narrow balcony,
flicking damp cigarettes into the river of rain below.

Eventually, we all change, put on our monstrous armour,
become the same curious creatures following the same script.  

Except one....

who refuses to change, deciding in his own mind where he will play his part.
So he pulls on his proofed coat and heads out for the bar.

Outside, the power is off.

The streets are silent. Even the cafes have closed earlier than usual,
tables and chairs left out in the rain chained together, like prisoners
crying for release.

He slips along the cobbled streets, chanting his lines in time with his own footsteps:
'There are more dead people than living....the living are getting rarer.'
Even he's not sure if he's quite himself or still in character.

Briefly, the clouds part to reveal the cold light of the moon,
the only thing in which he has absolute faith to guide him on his way.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Apr 2013 · 1.1k
Taken From Life
Caroline Grace Apr 2013
That the countryside is punctuated with quaint idyllic wonder, is overstated.
For those who survive on the other side of here, we as strangers have our
illusory perceptions of blissful self-sufficiency.
But seeing is not everything.
Our aspirations would be dashed if we were to live amongst its people.


A young couple is putting seed potatoes into the friable soil, hoping for a taste of the earth.
Storms have been forecast for later today, so they've been up since first light -
racing against Nature.

Their widowed Mother strains to watch them from the farmhouse window.
Oblivious to black clouds gathering in the distance.
She can just make them out, backs bent, next to their loaded basket.

Her husband, long gone, left her with empty hands to fill, so she's grateful at her age to be of some use to her family, minding their baby, just a few months old, cherishing it as if it were her own.

At midday, she settles the baby in its pram and begins to sing softly,a lullaby
she remembers singing to her daughter years ago, aware of how rusted her voice
has become, though her audience of one doesn't seem to mind.

As baby's eyes begin to close, she tiptoes to the kitchen to prepare bread and soup for the hungry planters, then taking a a final peek at the sleeping child, pulls on her boots and sneaks out.

In the yard there are pigs.
Solid, rounded brutes, ready for slaughter.
A little afraid, she moves between them, still humming the lullaby – just to feel safe.
Once in the field, she closes the gate behind her, as though it was the final chapter in a book.

In the narrow field, her vision allows her a clearer view of her daughter and husband,
so she walks a little quicker, eager for adult conversation.

As she reaches them, they are sitting side by side on a convenient stone, both straight-backed, looking rather like a Henry Moore sculpture she thinks. They've been bent over for too long.

Sipping on the hot soup, it's as if they've forgotten how to talk – they're so exhausted.
But she understands, she knows how hard it can be.
Once you're committed to the countryside, there's no escape.
Life's like that.

A sudden gust moves the heavy clouds closer. She can smell rain coming.
Maybe there'll be enough to raise the first green shoots.
A distant rumble of thunder decides for her that she should go back to the house
so they can finish the planting.

As she reaches the gate, the wind gathers speed, bringing with it a heavy downpour.
She's glad she's wearing her boots.

At the house she finds the door already open where the damp wind has muddied the quarries.

Further into the storm-dimmed hallway, she senses an atmosphere of ruin -
a kind of emptiness breathing in a dead space.
And from the violated air, a chill freezes her heart with a fearful silence.

The pigs, the terrible pigs......

Her eyes fix on the pram, tipped on its side,
its white covers ribboned with flesh and blood,
and one wheel spinning, its rhythm gently slowing for the final lullaby.

It seems that the sound of the storm is leaving the field, soon to burst through the open door
of the first chapter in a different story.


When the madness of country life turns against you, the unseen future comes quickly.
And the past forever gone, lingers to torment the soul with stories
that have no endings.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Apr 2013 · 1.1k
The Oven.
Caroline Grace Apr 2013
It's early Spring.
Our new neighbours have just moved in,away from city life to a fresh start,
where here in the valley, everywhere is green – for most of the time.

At this time of year, the orange blossom fills the air with its scent.
In no time at all, the waxy flowers will give way,
allowing the trees to become heavy with fruit.

She's very young, with pale skin -
almost the same tone as the falling blossoms.
But soon that will change as she takes on a more sun-kissed look.

Her partner has already spent his weekends here, so he's used to being outdoors.
He's built her a bread oven which she says she doesn't really need.
It's much easier to buy bread in town.

They gather sticks to start the fire. Small twigs to get it started,
then as the flames begin to lick, throw on more substantial branches.
He tells her that the first blaze is to test the oven's structure-
he wants to make sure the lining is resilient to the heat.

When the flames die away and the hot ashes begin to settle,
he says that next time, they will bake bread together.

Closing the oven door, they slide into mutual silence.
She slips her hand into his, to feel safe,
then stroll indoors to the warming smell of roast lamb,
leaving the sun to set behind them.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Apr 2013 · 1.1k
Broken Pots
Caroline Grace Apr 2013
Winters here are unpredictable.
There are days when the fire stays in, when I watch the log pile shrink by the hour.
Other days, a weak sun raises the temperature by degrees, as well as the spirits.

Today, there's a chill in the air, so I call my friend to meet at the local bar -
that means I won't have to burn any logs.

She works here in the village, turning pots, then decorates them with the traditional blue designs
for tourists to buy – if she's lucky.

At the bar, she tells me about her new project. She knows exactly what she wants.
Ideas spin in her head like the pots on her wheel.
This time, she says, she's determined.

Her enthusiasm doesn't last for long.
She drifts away, staring into the middle distance, lost in private thoughts.

I study her hands- always tense, never still. Her slim fingers engrained with the red earth that she shapes.
Her wedding ring hangs from a chain around her neck, leaving her hands free from obstructions while she kneads the clay.

In the background, beer glasses crash about and a dog is barking somewhere outside.

Her eyes flick towards the T.V. High on the wall.
Sometimes, when an important match is on, there's football, but more often than not, like today,
there's a violent American film with subtitles in her own language.
She shivers, then comes back to me, pulling her scarf closer around her shoulders.
She tells me she's seen the film before and knows the plot well.
It's the one where the husband gets drunk and tries to **** his wife, but no one will believe her.

She looks tired.
She says she's been up all night trying to fix a faulty thermostat - that the heat of the kiln was too high and broke all her pots. Then the main fuse burned out and that she'd have to get an engineer in to fix it.

After a while, we embrace and part.
Walking home, I think of my friend and how she could never bear the space between her hands and her precious creations.

The air feels chillier now and an icy wind has started to blow.
I expect by the end of the day there'll be snow on the ground.
But there again, it might just rain.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Apr 2013 · 747
A Game of Chess
Caroline Grace Apr 2013
Bedtime, and another weekend closes on his sleeping children.
Creeping out of their room, he's secretly relieved that the heavy door won't quite shut,
feeling certain he'll never get round to fixing it.

He catches his reflection in the upstairs glass,
studies the bristled face, the ringed pools of his sleepless eyes,
his head reeling with details of recent weeks
demanding answers to how it all came to this.

Downstairs, darkness feeds his solitude.
He gropes for the light, gathers up the abandoned socks,
dumps them with the soiled linen, then
slumps at the narrow window to stare at
amber street lights flickering on over a brutal world.

He recalls when he was a boy,
how his strong limbs used to stride over the cracks,
how nothing could hurt him.
Now, in this absurd small war, he keeps stepping on sudden explosions.

Tomorrow, the children will return to their mother's control,
though he knows she will exploit them
like pawns, for the advance of her own success.

Silently he weeps over them,
aware of how impressionable they are – like clay,
not knowing how their future will be moulded.
The only thing of which he is certain,
is the cold, cruel savagery of love.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Mar 2013 · 754
Preparing for Easter.
Caroline Grace Mar 2013
My neighbour is on her balcony shaking out blankets.
It's nearing Easter and her family is coming to visit.
She stands motionless for a moment to watch the blossom being snatched by sudden gusts, then settling as a skittering of ivory snow.

It's always blustery at this time of year,
that's Nature's way of getting rid of rotten fruit.

She drapes the blankets over the balustrade, then secures them with wooden clothes pegs.
That's when I wave to her.

Usually, the cleaner comes in, but today she wants to do it herself,
to prove that she still can. It's a small thing that makes her happy.

She says there's not enough time left to be bored. So twice a week, she drives into town
to meet for coffee with other people like herself.
Her car is very reliable. She remembers her husband telling her to get things checked
before there was a chance of developing anything faulty.
He died last year, but life has to go on – for her own sake.

In this country, when a partner passes away, the one that's left behind wears black -
that's why she wears her pink dress -
just to let them know she has a mind of her own.

She loves her life here, but misses her grandchildren growing up -
that's why they come.

Last year, one of the boys told her she'd shrunk! But it was he who'd shot up like a flowering
pea, putting out tendrils to test an adult world.

When solitude becomes too much for her, she comes round.
“You could die in your sleep here,” she tells me
“and no one would find you for weeks. When they eventually did, they'd carry you off in a pretense of black to a place where everyone's forgotten.”

That's why today, she's shaking off her blankets.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2013
Mar 2012 · 2.2k
Night Stalker.
Caroline Grace Mar 2012
I knew you from another time, another country,
watched you flicker between the shrill squeals of children's voices,
trace crystal on reflective faces.

Long forgotten, you followed me here
to dance your brittle death over my body's contours,
startling me into submissive white.

My skin shudders.

Your cold hands surprise me,
long bones flecked with almost-snow
shrivel my seed to a dry husk,
my fruit to rotten pulp.

You are alien here.

Like a thief you fling back my golden quilt,
steal the colour from my cheeks,
reduce my indigenous offspring to a spineless slaver
of translucent gel,
terrified milk running to ground.

After of a night of white terror you sigh over me,
roll your eyes over my corpse
leaving the whole withered,
impartial to my wailing
on account of your ungovernable nature.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Mar 2012 · 710
My blood runs through you.
Caroline Grace Mar 2012
At first he had no voice to speak of,
wore a cloak of faded rainbows,
woke each day in darkness
the drip,drip of grey water shrinking his skull.

Naked and vulnerable,  found himself
in the middle of a vast plain.
Cheeks wet with despair,
asserted himself with unearthed tools from an ancient seam,
wound himself with the colour of sun,
changed the face of a monstrous landscape.

'All things must change, into something new, something strange.'

Defeated by a measureless sea,
in waves of passion set free
his words on the back of a avenging hawk.
Oiled feathers heavy with rumours.
Swept over desolate hills,
followed floors of arid valleys,
observing the fractured terrain between
his land and the next.

Hostile feathers splayed,
he alighted on a familiar rock,
a pleasing trickle watering her back.
Caught off guard, she could not bear the weight,
the ****** carnivorous throat,
the accusing claws.

(What is the sound that fills this space?
Is it a lost soul grieving?)

She parts moist hair from heavy lids :

“Come, unveil the clouded patterns from your eyes.
Let me fill your echoing cavern with  songs of our ancestors,
take you back to the flame that brought you here.

Though you have banished me with the silence of stone,
I was there at your birth
and still my blood runs through you.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Mar 2012 · 1.7k
Sky Climbing
Caroline Grace Mar 2012
At an angle of ninety degrees,
two trees share the same plot.
This one grazes the eaves,
seeking vain attention in the window glass.

The other, its grey ghost lazes
prostrate on the herb garden, reveling
in secrets of lemon balsm and thyme.

At night, the first becomes demonic,
obliterates the universe,
branches scraping the pane, scratching
like fingernails on slate,
its coppery leaves trying to get in.

Its partner slinks to earth,
seeking solace,
wringing conterminous roots till sunrise.

I've had my fill of these unrested moments
fighting the pillow, not settling.
There is no joy in seeking stolen stars.

My dilemma grows horns.

I half dream of ******,
at least amputation.

But even the dimmest light shines in the dark -
I consider its tormented destiny.

At daybreak, like a ****** I scale its gnarled branches
ridiculously one-handed,
the other a keen-toothed weapon.

I am an agile goat shinning upwards
feeding on dreams of peace.

Lost in the sky, I become sap,
melt into its arms,
(a vertiginous release)
I become a curved branch.

(There's someone standing in my elbow!)

Leaves helix down, settling on autumn crocus.
“Look!  Gold on gold!"

The grey ghost yawns, grows its shadow,
waves its arms demanding justice.

I wave back.

Suddenly terrified, I secrete an invisible scent.
The branches contract, tense as ligaments.

My heart plummets, rolls out recumbent,
presses heavily on the earth
listening to fleshy roots recede.

A few deft cuts......

Sun gutters through bereft spaces,
striking the window.
Both trees a shade lighter, a lighter shade.

Tonight I will dream under visible stars,
feel the moon's half-light slide over me.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Caroline Grace Mar 2012
“What kind of life is this?”
Pradesh offers his hands in supplication.
“We should warn them there's nothing here.
My family sold land for the journey.”

Here in a back street
eager to disclose his inner space
Pradesh drags clear a square of chipboard
distressed corners shedding altered wood.

He breast-strokes through a gap
kicked into crumbled brick,
swims in against a thankless tide,

Imagines he's safe here in this place
veiled with yellowing plastic,
the stench of decayed waste crawling  brittle walls.

“Others venture here too – in their thousands.”

“We are the Nameless Treaders of Earth.
We share the same contiguous roots,
the same seed, the same flowering.
We share the same goal – survival,
even the unscrupulous....
even you my friend.

Mindful of dissolving into prickly cynicism
he slumps onto his lath-thin mattress,
draws up his knees foetus-style....

and slips into half-sleep, submerged in dreams
of a home to which he can never return.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Feb 2012 · 2.5k
Tribal Vibes.
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
Tedium brought them here.
Bored with routine head-counts,
museums and man-made landmarks.

Impulse told them
To flatten the silent fronds,
Blindly tear down the hampering vines,
Rattle the industrious cities beneath their feet.

Curiosity led them
To this patch of unkempt squitch,
This sacred space littered with clean bones.

No words came with them.
Only Observation...

... a leaping fire tended by savages
Polished teeth strung around their necks,
The bark-ridged skin,
The supernaturally piercing eyes,
Their ashen members grazing the farinaceous earth.

At the heart of this sacred place
Littered with the clean bones,
Condesention covered them with coats,
Misinterpreted grins exposing evidential remains.

Fear penetrated their too-white skins,
Their souls through the sockets of their eyes,
Their clattering teeth.

All this is true :
The scattered bones,
The brass buttons blinking through starved ashes,

The arrows in a glass case.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Feb 2012 · 1.4k
Man on a ledge.
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
Trapped in the definition of his interior,
he had become an invisible thing.

In moods deeper than dark ebony
repetitive folding and unfolding of nefarious reasons
pushed him to step outside his restricted vision.

Lost perhaps?
Or provisionally eclipsed?

A luminous slash hinged his door,
the cicatrice between brooding paralysis and explicit dreams.


Here on the ledge,
teetering on the cusp of obscurity and mountains blinding peak,
his sight catches a net
streaming from an open window-
billowing freedom.

A metalic thread glitters through him,
its coppery tang branching across clenched fibres
igniting his fingers, his tongue.

A mute cloud disperses.
He stands in the presence of a revelation.

Through the smoke of his eyes
he steps off the threshold
plunging into burnished sun,
his head incandescent with foreign scents.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
written for a friend who has recently won his battle against agoraphobia.
Feb 2012 · 727
Stepping out.
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
The waltz is almost over
together on our toes
today we dance the quickstep
in depths of winter's throes
that's how it goes-
one season to another.

We tried the bossa nova
discovering new steps
a pas de deux by moonlight
united in our quest
for what was best-
from one year to another.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
an exercise based on Louis MacNeice's  ' The sunlight on the garden'
Feb 2012 · 1.1k
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
Through this corroding forest,  
a thin snake winds soundlessly
between stiff marram grass.

Over time, the constant brackish wind sculpts,
drifts / scaling the metal shanks
shackled to their own shape-shifting shadow.

Steadfast in scorched sand, forty or more as one,
tilt towards the ocean,
reflecting conflict between water and earth.

We are not in tune with their deep veined histories
nor elemental transformation.
We do not propound to understand their language.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
..... bodies of leaping salmon,
eyes blinking like soft kittens.

I wade ankle-deep in water
searching for her glassy eyes,

plunge my wrists into the flow
groping for her drowned dress.

I know if I could reassemble her face,
push back those eyes to stare,

stare out at me again, clothe her
with that special dress

sewn with delicate seeds of honesty,
she would become whole

and the tiger-fish believe she's human.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Feb 2012 · 750
Saturday Job.
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
The boy in the shop squats on his haunches,
his sun-struck hand a spanner,
gleaming, precise.

She enters his world of winged helmets and glinting chariots,
the warm air smothered with the tread of rubber.

'Click'-the wheel completes its cycle.

His slim fingers spin the spokes.
He rises, *****, strong, prepares to take flight,
stretches his back, loosens his shoulders,
his neck, and smiles-

She senses a rush,
feels the heat from the halo of fire that surrounds him.
Unable to hide a blush, she turns,
then finds him beside her, so close
they could have been dancing.

"See you in school?"

She shrugs....   "Cool"    and leaves
with her vision of hope
riding on a shining, spinning wheel.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
My grandson works in a bicycle shop at weekends. He's fallen in love for the first time!  Aaah....
Jan 2012 · 595
Last Post.
Caroline Grace Jan 2012
Yesterday your letter came.

Risen early,  unable to sleep,
watching the morning,
your roses,
the blown blossom catching in drifts.
Through misted eyes
I read your final sentiments
expressed in such a vital hand –
‘sealed with a loving kiss’

I knew they were mistaken,
(those stiff military men,
all talk and tact)
pushed aside their lies,
would not believe.

Then you came to me,
talked of fire on the horizon,
the desolation of no mans land,
showed me the indelible stain
where your heart once raced.
All confusion dissolved,
undeniable proof.

In time you will thin to a
frail thread of half-formed light,
weaving bright patterns
through distorted days.
I will learn to live,
that peace will come,
cherish your immortal words
sealed with a loving kiss.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Dec 2011 · 887
On a Biblical scale
Caroline Grace Dec 2011
In the beginning there were no words
for there was no call for words,
neither was there knowledge,
for there was nothing to know.
All was sublime wordless ignorance,
everything simply - was.

It was at this time, the time of everything,
that Utopia reigned.
All things raised themselves up to the sky
from the rich fertile soil,
from the clear waters,
and from beneath the weight of great boulders.
All things in harmony reaching towards
the brightness of a Utopian sky.

And it came to pass, that beasts
came to dwell in that land.
And the beasts became Man and
Man became the beast.
It was a great time of change.

And Man spewed forth words from his mouth
"Blessed is this land, for it hath many resources.
I will make claim to it and bring it to order."
And with these words came Knowledge.

all that raised itself was cut down,
the fertile land defiled,
the clear waters made corrupt.
Great boulders were rent asunder in order to build
marble palaces and statues ornamented with
gold and silver, paying homage to Man.

Time passed,
and there came upon that land a great famine.
The fertile land became barren.
Fishes floated in the pestilent waters.
There was no more reaching towards the sky.
In Man's greed Utopia had been dethroned.
Chaos reigned in its place.
All became worthless.

And Man wrestled uneasily with his conscience
knowing he had lost Utopia forever.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Dec 2011 · 4.8k
Ted Hughes: A Celebration.
Caroline Grace Dec 2011
Attended by old friends and mentors
the Great Bear's name is set in stone.
Protected by the roof of his architectural cave
his undying lines resound
in the celebrated corner of words.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Oct 2011 · 1.4k
Closing time.
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
Mid October takes its end of season's leap
into the solitude of post-tourism autumn.
The landscape shows its truer face to celebrate
the reassembly of local solidarity.

Tat and trim tucked into hibernation,
chalkboards erased,
scant takings totaled,
inflatables deflated.
Unsold crafts packed between pages of yesterday's
'Correio de Manha'
Shocked freezers stand open-mouthed
their diet of ice dwindled to a thin trickle.
Sunshades collapse in deep south style,
redundant loungers relax supine.

Kids ***** back to school -
a mule-train of shoe-scrapers packed to the hilt
dawdles through warming scents of
post-salad indulgence,
sweet with the street-aroma of 'feijoada',
garlic, and  aromatic oregano
***-grown in a back plot, littered with
discarded placards and tired bikes.

Past men leaning doors, unsure of new routines,
idle hands and minds with new time to fill
mostly in cold bars for warm camaraderie.
Women pick fitfully at quiet-season's crochet
squatting to gossip under a white wash
slung and pegged, stick-sure
against thin bleached facades.

Under Planes, old comrades congregate
shuffling at a make-shift table,
tired eyes set on cards,
playing for cents under a limited sky
once defined by Salazar.

Car parks thin.
Beneath the russet canopies street-sweepers
scorn a reckless wind, where still sun-crisp leaves
gather in gutters, thirstily anticipating
the first deluge under autumn's gathering clouds.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Oct 2011 · 721
Ebb and flow.
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
The two walked one ahead of the other
on ridges of rippled sand,
hard contours pressing their soles.
Pondering the ebbed tide,
they flipped hollow shells
as the music of trifling waves
eased their folly.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Oct 2011 · 1.1k
La Petite Mort.
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
Tomorrow I will be there with you.

Not because your eyes tried in vain to make me stay,

nor that you own the secret essence of the earth.

There is no reason, except to hear your voice escape

from that place I once kissed in fervent gasps,

and having died a small death in the pure flame of passion,

with you I would die a thousand times again.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Oct 2011 · 795
The 27 club.
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
Genius has a habit
of eating its own tail.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
This one here's me aged three
at a trestle table for little ones,
snapped with a box Brownie
at the Miss Rosebud parade.

Fresh as a daisy in crepe paper petals
under an eternal sun.
There's my brother dressed as a magpie...
just out of shot.

I remember that dress.
Yards of love sewn into a snowdrift
of crisp petals tumbling into my lap
under the Singer where I sat shuffling

impatiently to the machine's rhythmic rattle,
mesmerized by my mother's puffed-up feet
on the treadle,
my brother's whining cry...
just out of shot.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Oct 2011 · 1.3k
The scent of fresias.
Caroline Grace Oct 2011
It's not the shy flowers that beckon
it's the distraction of perfume.
A predetermined breath
designed to confound the senses,
drag you to your knees,
excite olfactory receptors,
jangle neurons, axons, dendrites,
wow you with silken notes
of milk and honey,
no.....warm vanilla,
(attempts to translate their fragrance
would dumfound a dictionary)
Then, Parisienne sabonettes come to mind,
in limbic wafts spilled from a half open box.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
Sep 2011 · 1.1k
Wind of change.
Caroline Grace Sep 2011
Autumn drives her wind-horse to the gates of change.
She heaves fresh faced in shadows of a sheltering wall.
Eager to test the lie, so to speak, she sighs-

'Is it time yet, is it time?'

She observes a world half asleep, half dead.

'O dessicate Summer, O thirsty lady,
you have sapped all strength,
mopped the life-blood, leached all colour,
turned blushing petals to withered cusps,
you have turned this world to crumbling dust.'

Cat-like she steals, then with a gust....leaps!
whipping a dry pool of terrified leaves into a freshening frenzy.

'I'm here!' she cries 'It's my time.
Dance your full-blown pirouette!'

She turns to a world where neglected grapevines droop.
In the garden of ripening fruit, she plucks bruised from new;
mouldering black fruit that hangs in the crooked elbow of a thirsty tree.

Saddened, her tears fall on leaf-dead ground.
Slow tears, tears to tease dormant seeds from cracked hard-packed ground.
But listen to that sound.....
count the minims spilling on the quavering split terrain!

Net the hour, capture the perfume of moist grass where there is yet no greenness,
where the fat toad leans towards a blackening sky.

We are but children journeying from one season to the next

'Are we there yet? Are we nearly there?'

And when the storm comes we will know to light our way
into the garden of ripening fruit.

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
It's that time of year again.
Sep 2011 · 1.3k
Somewhere north.
Caroline Grace Sep 2011
Its name has a warm ring
yet is the coldest place on earth,
so cold, moisture freezes inside the nose.
A mere sneeze can project a spray of silvery crystals
scattering like stardust.
No tintinnabulation sweetens the ears.
Sound falls dead like a grounded lark.
Conversation has an icy chill.

Life here exists with no excuses.
Slippery slopes bear no blame for
never reaching your destination.
Brutally bound to the flake white canvas,
existence is forceably cohesive.

And if you ever chance your arm to quit,
a valedictory shake of the hand
will leave you in the grip of winter.

(There will be no husky rescue)

copyright © Caroline Grace 2011
HELP! I'm trapped again!
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