Barbara Grace Lake

Poetry & Other Crimes


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Just give me a minute I’ll tell you a tale
About the first time I went hunting for snipes
Yes truly the first and a final time, too
Because as experience, once is enough

It started one day when a good friend of mine
Declared he was homesick and tired of town noise
I’m missing my folks and I’m missing my trees
I’m missing the carefree existence I knew

He asked me to come, he said plenty of room
We’ll have lots of fun and my family you’ll love
So city girl started out rucksack in tow
To weekend with people that she’d never known

We drove and we drove along twisted dirt roads
Not mentioning that they seemed awesomely steep
And hugging the rim of a sheer mountain side
We finally got to my friend’s family home

The first thing I saw were some rickety stairs
That led to a ramshackle two-story house
Its porch was lop-sided, the eave cover sagged
The yard held an outhouse. That’s all that they had

Our cleansing off travel took turns at the sink
They had running water, piped in from a spring
To use making coffee or boiling potatoes
For cooking they fired up the wood in the stove

They did have electric, a line from below
For once-a-week use of their washing machine
But other than that kerosene lamps were there
But what after dark could the folks do for fun

It’s time to get clean, we can have us a war
Just don’t douse the stove or we’ll never be fed
They’re talking of water, I covered my head
Then tossed a big pitcher full out through the door

I’m sorry to say that the brothers played rough
As poured through the window a washtub of stuff
I’m drenched and I’m drowned, and I’m sputtering mad
But helpless with laughter when sweeping the floor

The very next night eldest brother declared
We need some fresh meat, we’ll go hunting for snipes
You only can hunt them at night I was told
You game? I was asked so I choked and said yes

We’ll go up the hill and then chase the snipes down
They’re frightened of us so they’ll run right to you
Just usher them in to your sack and we’ll have
Some savory snipes for our dinner tonight

And there I stood trustingly sack in my hand
Beguiled or befuddled by innocent youth
Quite possibly duped into stretching the truth
No snipe would I catch for they did not exist

The next day we left on the roads going home
With baskets of food to consume on the way
But lest a kind person thinks I was misused
Rest easy, this girl had the time of her life


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


So beautifully this day bestows
Shape-changing clouds upon a base
Of brilliant turquoise tinted sky
Repeated in compressed blue ice
Of ancient glaciers endless flow

Horizons edge begins and ends
Where blue-green sea meets aqua loft
No separation line is seen
Far distant color thins to air
To merge into a spatial void

Pristine the night, both clear and cold
A meteor from distant space
Streaks etching fire across the vault
Whose roof of iridescent stars
Are beacons, bright and beckoning

From garden’s bower in leafy shade
My dogwood’s tallest branches sway
Its shadows cast upon broad sweep
A home to mockingbirds their songs
Awaken every living being

Warm summer evenings into dark
Plum mountain peaks impale the night.
As sun resigns, its last full rays
Bring alpine glows magenta, red
Majestic gift for looking up


© 1975 Barbara Grace Lake


My day is done, all strife arrest,
A thankful time of still content.
No task undone, no call advent,
To halt or stay my welcome guest.
My book’s aside, its mark in place,
Come gently sleep, do not relent
Or tarry long your kind embrace,
With but one touch all cares erase,
One whisper, ever more to rest.


© 1970 Barbara Grace Lake


Night is ending and with the sun’s ascension into the greyness of softly dawning skies,

The luminescence of countless shimmering stars etching the still darkness is gently swept away

And with the dawn comes renewal of hope and warmth and courage for those who have buried yesterday’s sighs

Into the recession of sleep and dreams that yet may be fulfilled in the creation of another day.


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


For days we’ve borne a killing heat
Temp readings in high nineties, more
Sun slammed to near unconsciousness
Beneath skies pitilessly blue

Cool freshened ocean breeze flows up
An ancient river course to bring
First hint of moisture, clouds for shade
A gentle pattering of drops

With hope presaging cooling rain
I lift my face to taste the fall
Each welcome drop caresses skin
And rinses clean the dust of heat

As torrents come, I toss my hat
And fling my shirt and shoes aside
To naked run in bracing streams
Cascading down my outstretched arms


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


A summer hot and humid day
At times a coastal breeze will flow
Up river stream’s meandering
(The current old before first men
Made nets to bring its bounty home)
And cool a river bather’s skin
Inflamed to red from summer’s sun

More strongly in my garden trees
It rocks firm branches, pummels leaves
Disturbing birds who squawk their ire
Before they see their nest is safe
Their raucous voice is similar
To shrieking hurled at raiding squirrels
Who dare come near their nested eggs

Today’s too hot for squirrel raids
He’s laying on a branch spread out
To nab each errant breeze that comes
To ruffle fur and cool his skin
His sparrow foe no better off
Wings spread apart beak open wide
Pursuing cooling, saving air

So delicately hued, the sky
An innocent appearing blue
Without a blemish or a cloud
Or rarely seen a filmy one
Will drift until it dissipates
Into the higher reach of wind
And vanish slowly from my sight

Beneath the sky, below my trees
The air sits like a sticky paste
Adhering clothes to skin and hair
The wind through branch rejuvenates
But under them lies stifling heat
If I go out I’m stripping down
To  soak in puppy’s wading pool


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


When men allege belief in God
And by their acts cause others pain
Did God dictate to man, control
His thoughts, his actions, words or fate
Why blame your God?

And does the God to whom men bow
Direct them to be pitiless
Demeaning those whom they perceive
As born imperfect or unwise
Is this your God?

Did God create diversity
Of color, form or shape of eyes
For men to hew down other men
Enslaving those of lower caste
God ordered this?

Our God created worlds sublime
Lush beauty, awesome magnitude
That every child could share a bit
And see the majesty to come
This is God’s work.

No universal God permits
Abuse and cruelty in His name
No God avows a hate-filled act
When men conclude God grants this right
They have no God.


© Barbara Grace Lake


Between deep sleep and wakefulness
I sink into a softened bed
My pillow gently cradles me
Warm blanket snugs about my neck

But dreams then come within my view
Their vivid colors wash my day
A long gone cousin’s come to call
Dear Brenda always made me laugh

I see the patterned curtaining
And light that comes through window panes
So bright it seems unnatural
But I am cozy, comforted

Confused I ask where did she go
The dream so real it must be true
Which is more real, life or the dream
My comfort lies within the spell


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Child born today, I only wish
you’d waited till the world was calm
For stable parents’ nurturing
For lessons they could teach their child

Child born today, I wish for you
A better life than we can give
The village needed for your care
Does not exist, forever gone

Child born today, your parents failed
To think about the life they made
You’re unexpected, but you’re here
So others raise you teach their views

Child born today, you have to know
Your father’s off to fight a war
It doesn’t matter which or where
For you it means he won’t be here

Child born today, you came too soon
You cry because you’re comfortless,
You dad’s at war, your mom’s at work
But still you’ll live, perhaps survive

Child born today, I offer hope
A hope your sitters teach you love
With color blindness as to skin
Or shape of eyes or curly hair

Child born today, when you’re a teen
It’s late to learn what helps you grow
When hate’s ingrained you will not love
You cannot even love yourself.

Child born today, what will you do
With life you didn’t ask to have
You can’t go back, it’s far too late
I cry for you child born today

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