THE LAST PSALM

children dancing

                                       THE LAST PSALM 

You know when one person sneaks up on another person
And scares them?
Well, this is exactly what happened with us and Miss McPherson
That awful morning when, totally without warning, she flung out her arms
And, ‘Psalms, children!’ she cried. ‘Psalms! Psalms!  Psalms!’ 

The whole class froze.
No-one blinked their eyes, licked their lips or even picked their nose.
But we all fretted
Because the last psalm we ever heard
We had to be the sheep and Phoenix was the shepherd,
Who was supposed to lead us safely through the school and down the halls
But banged us into desks and doors and crashed us into walls
Until, Miss McPherson frowned, ‘Phoenix.  Please!  Sit down.
Let this be a lesson, sheep.  Only follow God around.’ 

Chantal, who’s new, she stood up.
I know all about palms, Miss,’ she said, coughed once, then went,
The tree that is known as a palm, can only grow where it is warm.’
Palms?’ cried Miss McPherson, so amazed,
She had to hang onto the Assembly hall curtain.
Not palms, Chantal.  Psalms!  Like the last psalm.
That dear little, sweet little, neat little psalm
That sings of God and His heavens all studded with stars.’ 

What!’ Tracey asked.  ‘Like Ruby’s Mum who has studs
In places you can see and in places that you can’t?
No,’ said Miss McPherson.
Even though Ruby’s Mum’s diamond studs sparkle in the dark. 

Jason read that psalm and it was really sharp.
Sing and dance for God,’ he read.  ‘Play the lyre and the harp.’
You don’t want to go near no harp,’ Harry warned.
Strum your fingers down those wires once only
And it’ll slice them up like pepperoni.’ 

We hadn’t got any lyres, (Only Charles, ha ha!),
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor timbrels.
But we had drums, Miss McPherson’s old piano, and two shining sets of cymbals.
So, we danced and sang for God until music rocked the school
And tumbled every single person out of every single room
To join in that last psalm song.
But the best thing about it all,’ Clyde said,
The psalm was so short and the joy was so long.’                           

                                                                           ©  2016 GWEN GRANT                                                      

THE SCENT OF CLOVES

carnation

This was my father’s garden, too many years ago to count and yet, the memory of it is as sharp as if I had seen it yesterday.  My father loved carnations.  Carnations and chrysanthemums, the great, shaggy headed, curled-over petalled flowers, which were almost glints of architecture in amongst the more gentle flowers.

      THE SCENT OF CLOVES

The garden was full of carnations
Standing in elegant rows like delicate soldiers,
Or curling up together
In friendly circles,
Their silvery green leaves
Supporting each other.

That spicy sharpness of cloves,
That remembered scent of carnations
Filled the air,
Making me dream of other lives
Lived by fabulous people,
Which, one day, I would discover for myself.

But I never did.
For my own life elbowed those dreams
Out of the way
And gave me carnations.

                                      ©2019 Gwen Grant

FEATHERS

Multi-colored feathers on a white background

           FEATHERS   

Fire is a red feather
Drifted from that hungry old bird,
The sun.
Whose voracious appetite
Devours the world,
Yet whom we keep feeding.

The sun is a yellow feather
Drifted into that pale bird
Of day,
Always nesting in the darkness,
But which is now considering
New quarters in a cave.

Hope is a feather of any colour,
That has, from time to time,
Thought Prometheus a fool.
Yet, hope still shines through
The searing light and inky darkness
That reveals all.
Way too much, in fact,
For any chance of happiness.
But this feather is certain
That love will defeat the lot of them.

                    © 2019 Gwen Grant

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

 

desert blooming       

                  OUT OF THE DARKNESS

When it’s all over bar the shouting,
When the last tear has fallen
And the shocked heart has settled
Once more to its beating.
When the requiem for the lost
Has played its final bleak murmuring
And sorrow brings the broken to their knees,
That is when all that is left is love,
Love is all that is left.

But what good is left-over love
To the shattered heart?
What good is hope
Lying broken in the darkness?

Out of the darkness come the rains
To fill the dry beds of rivers
With water moving silky as young women sleeping,
Rolling and twisting, twisting and turning,
Their long bony feet stretching thinly behind them;
When trees come to leaf like young men leaping
Up branches to touch the first floor of heaven,
Strong hands full of leaves, now full of flowerings
And dry deserts blooming.  

So when all is said and done,
The requiem over and silence soft fallen.
That is when all that is left is love
                 And love is all.

                                                     ©2019 Gwen Grant    

THIS CIRCUS HAS NEVER REALLY WORKED, HAS IT?

 

psychedelic

THIS CIRCUS HAS NEVER REALLY WORKED, HAS IT?         

She never wanted to be in this circus,
Yet, here she is, a bareback rider.
Others riding her to despair, to tragedy
Always waiting in the wings.
Wake up, folks!  Look what’s happening.

He never wanted to be a trapeze artiste,
Yet, here he is, leaping from one hand to another.
Knowing he’s going to miss.
Knowing he’ll fall and crack his head wide open.

These clowns! 
Forever tumbling over, forever falling down,
Getting up again problematic
When you’re already tagged a failure.
Oh, get a grip.

Trailing clouds of glory?
Well, our glory was long gone
By the time we hit the spotlight.
Only storm clouds and bad weather
Showed up for us.

This circus operates in the dark,
Performers lit only by a flash of light,
To count lost years by,
To add up lost chances,
To see the end of a sharp needle.

This circus needs closing down,
Then no-one can ever get back in,
Not even with a ticket.
                                  ©  2019   Gwen Grant
                         

THE MATHEMATICS OF LOVE

maths


THE MATHEMATICS OF LOVE

History is like a shed
We can shelter in
When present life is tough,
And the future
Doesn’t look up to much, either.

Mathematics is like a shed
We can shelter in
When nothing in our life adds up,
And the sum of love
Equals a big fat nothing.

Hope is like a shed
We can shelter in,
For Hope is always at home
With the kettle on.
This is a good shed to live in.

The mathematics of love
Are always the same.
Love plus love equals love,
Until the sum of love adds up
To hope for us all.

Children first.

                               © 2017 GWEN GRANT.

THE ARTIST

  femm fatale

                         Femme Fatale by Kees Van Dongen

                     THE ARTIST

The artist is a liar
About painting only what he sees
In front of him.
Slick lies of seduction slipping from his lips,
Falling from his tongue,
Like leaves falling from a wintered tree.
He tells so many lies
It’s a wonder he doesn’t go blind.

That naked breast she offers
On fingers thin and sharp as boning knives
Is not offered for free.
Painting the aureole so dark
Only the juice of damsons could create
Such a full, rich, bruising.

This dance hall dame, remote and lethal,
Puts no value on any part of her body.
It’s all for sale
For a wad of the folding stuff.

The artist rhapsodised about her hair,

Her eyes, her implacable face.
But no-one on earth could mistake
That sullen, knowing mouth
For the mouth of a woman
Who has given in to seduction.

I’ll say!
That’s the mouth of a woman
Keeping her trap shut
And counting the money.

The artist is a liar,
Telling so many lies
It’s a wonder he doesn’t go blind.
Certain that this painting is so beautiful
People will fight to have it on their wall.

When, all the time, he knows he has painted
Her ancient and watchful soul,
All bandaged about with suffering.

                             ©2019 Gwen Grant