Three Poems by Stephen Grace



White-haired and thick-skinned, she took

to issuing decrees

whose judgements brooked

no possibility of reprieve.


‘I like to call a spade a spade’

she would perorate with pride,

recounting how the nuns had made

her learn to write with her left hand tied


behind her back, as though to mime

the contrarian and contrariwise

procedure by which those old pagan kings


were crowned, walking widdershins

around a stone circle

in shapes at once absurd and elemental.





Who knows how these things get started?

A chance encounter

in a wood with a man

who’s riding hell for leather


through a thunderstorm, the furtive glance

across a crowded dance floor

of one half

of a pair of soon-to-be-star-


crossed lovers, or you

in your black lace negligee

recounting the tale of Mary


Tudor, dead from the cancer

she had prayed so fervently

would be a baby boy.



The Trapper


Watching the beavers negotiate

the uneven ascent

of choppy waters and coppiced banks,

I was put in mind of the camps


the Indians would strike at our

approach, their tipis’ triangular

shapes disappearing through smoke holes

to the four corners of the world.


Last winter it had been so cold

that their breathing had gusted and billowed

from out of the lodge like the fumata

of cardinals in conclave,

or the fuming of the Mayflower

as it picked its way across the waves.



Stephen Grace lives and works in York, where he is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Related Literature.  He helps to edit the poetry journal Eborakon.



Image credit: Chris Jones

Leave a Reply