LITTLE BROWN HENS AND RED

 Where we lived when I was a girl, most of the gardens
around
us were like my Dad’s. Full of vegetables, fruit,
flowers and hens. They were beautiful gardens and I
remember our garden
with great fondness. 

  LITTLE BROWN HENS AND RED

My father’s garden was full of little brown hens
High stepping, tippy tapping in and out of the daffodils,
Pecking at the Spring mint, settling in the potato patch,
Always protesting, always complaining.
Not enough of this.  Too little of that.
The wicked tortoiseshell cat pinning them down
With eyes greener than the very grass they trod on.

They would crowd around the kitchen door,
Indignant little bodies demanding hen justice.
But they liked their bit of my father’s garden
With worms trying to live quietly beneath them.

Until my cousin came with his hard hands,
Hungry eyes and a heart intent on killing,
Then I went out shouting,
Scattering the little brown hens and the red,
Causing the dark cockerel
To turn his bitter, livid eye on my hateful presence.

Squawking, they fled, hiding under the hen coop.
Darting into the rhubarb leaves at the back of the tree.
But when my cousin kept coming, when his boots broke
The sunny daffodils, I pushed him so hard, he fell over,
I didn’t care about him.

For my little red hens and brown,
The arrogant cockerel with his angry eyes
All lived to tuck themselves up again
And sleep their tiny pulsing sleep.

To wake in the morning,
Ready for another really interesting day. 

                                          ©2020 Gwen Grant                        

NIGHT HOURS

moonlight on trees

  NIGHT HOURS

Closing on midnight,
With the great starry fields
Lying still and quiet in front of me,
Moonlight falling like water
On the silent trees, the dark furrows,
The creaking ice puddles shining,
Holding stars in their frozen silver,
I see the first ghosts
Of those I have known
Drift across the white horizon,
Mist folding them into sparkling shadows
Slipping through my fingers
When I reach out to touch them,
Take them home.

They don’t go far but wait for me,
Blowing the years in front of them,
Opening this corner and that
To let me see again,
All those I have loved.
All those I love still.

Until the snow finally hides them
And I turn for home,
The trees shivering in sympathy,
Anointing my lonely head
With cold tears of their own.

                          ©2020 Gwen Grant

  THE LION MAN

lion man

       THE LION MAN

This lion man
Is so beautiful
It makes my heart
Tremble.

For in its
Wrecked and lovely
Countenance,
I see
The endurance
Of all
Born from darkness
Into this greater darkness,
Where every soul realizes
Its aloneness.
Its bitter,
Bleak,
Irredeemable
Loneliness.

Yet lovers must love,
Words fall
From loving lips.
Hands touch
Souls
Courageous
In their enduring,
Gentle
In their laughter,
Resolute
In their bold living.

Only compassion
Can bring
Light
To that darkness.
Only hope
Inhabit those frozen
Wastes
Of aloneness.
Only love
Create the Lion man
In us all.

                      © 2019 Gwen Grant

CHILDREN WALKING

refugee child

When I was ten and very poorly, I was sent to a kind of hospital school three
hundred miles away from my home to get better.  I felt so lost, unhappy and
alone, I ran away on a night thick with snow, determined to get back home.
I’d read all the stories of children on their own – Hansel and Gretel, Snow
White, the children in the Bible constantly on the move and they consoled
me. 
But here we are, decades later, and like the children in the stories I
told myself all those years ago, they are still being pursued by the inhumanly
vicious.  
When will it end?

   CHILDREN WALKING

That night, in wicked December,
When the moon shone
Through the dark tops of trees
Onto the sparkling snow.
The sea rolling over the silent sand,
The water so cold and slow
Even Neptune was frozen,
Frightened by the frost hardened foam. 

That was the night she began
The three hundred mile walk home.
Sure it would take no time at all. 

She was sick of the great old house
In dark shadow behind her,
With its white beds, white walls
And fierce purple uniforms.
She wanted to sleep in her own bed,
With the candle on the window sill,
Unlit, but ready for any emergency.
A bad dream.  The eerie sound
Of a bogeyman almost upon her. 

As she walked, she remembered
All the stories she had heard
Of children walking.
Walking back to their own home,
Looking for a new one.
Some together.   Some like her, alone.
Walking through flame and fire and snow,
Through desolation. 

She didn’t get home that night,
Neither did they.
Even Neptune almost didn’t make it.
But they remember,
Those children walking alongside each other,
That night in wicked December. 

And still they walk,
Told in new stories of new suffering,
New desolation,
Of new bogeymen now upon them,
Told in the old story of the breakdown of love.  

                                © 2020 Gwen Grant

Kiss Kiss

When I first started writing, I didn’t really know what I was doing but, what I did know, was that I loved playing about with words.  That was all I wanted to do, just put them down, play around with them, and see what happened, which was how I first started writing experimental prose.  So experimental, in fact, once a sentence was down, I had no idea where it would lead but I didn’t care.  I just followed the words.  But what I didn’t do was impose a structure or form on these pieces of writing.
At some point, just following the words naturally led on to more structured writing, poems, short stories and longer fiction.  So I would always encourage anyone to just put the words down and see where they lead.  At one point, I bought an old sit-up-and-beg Imperial typewriter which I absolutely loved and which really made me feel a writer!  We paid £15.00 for it. 
Then, the advice always seemed to be to write about what you know but as I got more experienced, what I often did was to start with what I knew and go on from there, as in my  long short story KISS KISS, where I took several grains of truth and built on them.  Here’s an excerpt from that story which was published in an anthology……..

     This is one of the best winters I remember because when I look out of the shop window, I can see the whole street glittering and snow plastered to the sides of the lamp-posts so that they look like Maypoles, only needing a handful of ribbons to finish them off.
      Mr. Grogan came back from delivering the Orders, looks at me, then says, ‘You going out tonight, then?’
     ‘Of course, I’m going out.  It’s Christmas Eve.  I’m going to the Palais.’
     ‘Tut, tut,’ he goes.   ‘Never in, you’re not.  No wonder you were late this morning.’
     But I wasn’t late this morning because I got up with our Joe and walked with him to work.  He starts at half past seven.   It was bitter cold when we got outside but I was sick of lying in bed, watching the clock tick tock tick tock tick tock all night.
    I was glad I’d put my stilettos in my bag because it had just started to snow.  It was so heavy, it was already lying and there was a bit of a wind, so before we’d got to the end of the street, we looked like snowmen.
     That was when Joe said, ‘I’m signing on for the Army.  I’m not waiting to be called up.  I’m fed up of the life here.  There’s got to be more to it than this.’
     I always knew he’d go.
     ‘When are you going to sign on?’ I asked, and he said probably the first week in the New Year.
     ‘Then I’ll be gone by Spring.’
     I want to get away from this town, too, but where my Mam’ll say, ‘Good idea,’ to our Joe.  ‘Get yourself off and learn a trade.’
     To me, she goes, ‘You are not going to Canada, full stop,’ yet he’s only eighteen months older.

ebook Kiss Kiss is available on Kindle and Smashwords.