Leave the flowers until later,
When bread and butter has been cut
And strawberry jam stands on the table.
Don’t worry about anything fancy,
She won’t eat it, anyway,
Unless, of course, there are ginger biscuits,
Even then she’ll only pick one up
And eat the scent of it.
That spicey ginger smell that fills the room
Will be enough to fill her.

Intent, as she is, on fitting into that bikini
Hanging from the picture rail
On the crowded picture wall.
Red, naturally. Tiny blocks of scarlet
Tied with scraps of silky ribbon,
Pushing to one side the Van Gogh reproductions,
The Jackson Pollocks. The Constables,
The glinting golden glory of Klimt.

No, leave the flowers until later
For she has finally put it on and all she can see
Is the implacable bits of coloured misery.
Blinding her to her own lovely perfection.

Until, of a sudden, the bread and the butter
And the strawberry jam are right in front of her.
Buttered bread piled high with strawberries.
Wolf like, she devours it, teeth exploding the rich red fruit.
Red jam falling on red bikini, reaching now
For a ginger biscuit, the spicey smell of ginger
Filling the room, filling her with sweetness.

Now bring out the flowers so that she can see
She is a flower, standing there in her red bikini.

                                            ©2023 Gwen Grant

PRIVATE KEEP OUT!  by Gwen Grant
published by Penguin Vintage  Children’s Classics
available in paperback and as an ebook



Do not lie to me of love,
Or act as if the whole is good,
When every time I try
To catch your eye,
You turn away.

Golden words fall from your lips,
That wicked tongue can silver iron,
Until your lies
Cover me like dust.

I beg.

Do not lie to me of love.

                        ©2023 Gwen Grant


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
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
When will it end?


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



I wrote this poem a couple of years ago after a very difficult and
demanding year.   This didn’t change, though, simply going on
to bring more challenges.  


The woman who ate the moon
Lives in the trees down by the river.

Wait!  I tell a lie!

She actually lives on some small landing
Up a flight of stairs halfway to heaven,
Or resides at the bottom of a cellar temporarily,
Standing on dark, unseen tiles,
Cold, mysterious and unsettling.
Looking fantastically familiar
Should you ever catch a glimpse of her.

She has a habit of singing through the dark hours.

Sometimes of how she is made of paper
Inclined, at times, to burst into flame.

Her mind is full of brushed glass pieces
Picked up on the beach, blown lovely
By the steady rushing of the wind-blown sea,
With pebbles, sea-shells, starfish, mermaids
And the bones of the dead rattling amongst them.

After she swallowed the moon, she held it tight within,
Complaining, sometimes, that light shone right through her
And only dragons, biting and marauding, could save her,
Lending her their teeth.

At night, the sky is alive with heroes,
Blazing shields held up and ready to meet the morning.
Great wings of strength and beauty beating behind them
As they go seeking the woman who ate the moon.

But she would only let in
Those who left their shields and wings at home
As she was extremely busy making her own history.

                                                             © 2020 Gwen Grant