When I was a girl, my father kept aviaries of canaries and budgerigars.  He loved these little birds and I loved to see them darting about like so many tiny bright arrows.  I remember the parrot but it didn’t belong to us and now I have no idea who brought it into the house.   I think it must have only been staying for a short time because, apart from this one vivid memory, it was gone.  I would translate these birds into bits of writing and even now, when I look at a page, I can still sometimes see golden full stops, exotic blue and green commas and semi-colons and the odd dazzling colour of the exclamation mark! Wishing everyone a safe and happy New year and may every day be a good writing day.

                  WRITING DAYS

There were canaries through all those years,
Endlessly flying down the days
Like little golden full stops
At the end of a sentence.

There were budgerigars, too.
Blue and green, chittering and chattering
Like commas or semi-colons
Taming an especially unruly paragraph.

And there was one great question mark of a parrot.
Where did he come from?
Who brought him in?
Sitting wherever he chose,
Staring at us with a cool, sardonic eye.
Shouting and swearing,
‘Shivering his timbers,’
Like some old sea tossed sailor.
Every squawk an exclamation mark on a really
Exciting piece of writing.

But I liked the little wren
Singing in the garden,
Startling the silence
Like a poem.

                                     © 2018 Gwen Grant  




Pea pods and pea straws
And fields of green oceans
As far as the eye can see,
And busy little children
Building pea-straw houses
Or getting lost in the green fields
As their mothers pull peas.

They were all told
To keep away from the small river
Where the Kingfisher flew,
Enchanting those who saw
The blue blur, blue on blue.
Tempting one child or another
To slide into the water.

Languorous now, the afternoon wears on,
The sun emptying those green oceans,
The red tractor silent
As little children are found and woken.
Bags weighed,
Coins counted one by one
Into green-dirty hands,
Ready for the waiting corner-shop man.

Time to climb onto the lorry.
Time to go home.

Everything will have changed
In the year that is yet to come,
But the fields will still be full
Of quiet green oceans bringing hope
Of a new harvest.

                                   © 2020 Gwen Grant  



Some years ago, I wrote a Christmas Play. One of the parts was
taken by my good friend, Irene, who had a wonderful singing
voice, so that when she sang, there was breathless silence.
This is the poem I wrote about Irene and her Christmas carol.


Our choir is so good
Angels come down to listen to them.
Those angels think I can’t see them,
But I see them,
Dancing on the head of a pin,
Lolling on the piano,
Or perching poker-backed on the tops of chairs
Where people are already sat listening.
They are very fond of songs where angels appear
And especially liked it that time
When Irene sang her solo,
‘Angels from the realms of glory.’
The angels liked that so much
The tips of their wings were quivering.
But when our choir sings about the Lord,
Those angels join in.
They think I can’t hear them,
But I hear them.
‘O Lord my God,’ our choir sings,
And the angels singing with them kneel down,
Their wings all spread around the singers as they sing,
Together filling this whole place with such tenderness
I bow my head and cannot look at them again
Until the singing ends.
The angels have all gone home by then.
‘Gloria in excelsis Deo!’  AMEN.

                                     © 2008 Gwen Grant



laurel and hardy


There is no scent of roses here
As there was in that quiet Cathedral,
No flowers at all.
Only the drunks hiccupping home, singing,
Laughing at the grey and hungry water
Hissing right up to the sea wall,
All frosted and glittering.

Bitter sleet whips their cold faces,
Whitens their hair,
Whitens the streets around them,
Warning of a coldness that could kill them.

But these men and women staggering
Down the frozen pavements
Are reluctant to go home,
Reluctant to leave the fun,
Laughing at this little bit of wild ocean,
Dancing in and out of the sizzling spray
Of wild waves and grasping water.

Drunks boozily loving each other,
Singing without thinking,
Knowing the words of songs learnt in childhood.
Not seeing that the creeping white horses
Hushing up the slippery pavements
Are out to get them, fling them on their backs
And gallop away with no-one noticing.

Drunk or sober, life is for the living.
Just keep away from the water.

                                          © 2020 Gwen Grant