Barbara Grace Lake

Poetry & Other Crimes


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Such scary tales of women told
Alone at night locked out of cars
Their keys secure inside their van
It’s sadly true, and hardly farce

Not us.  Vacationing away
My mother, Betty Chan and me
Our destination north of home
To great Columbia River see

Along the gorge this river gouged
We traveled east on River Road
Intent to see each waterfall
When stopped we’d hoist our camera load

Our folly happened in full day
Three women bright were locked outside
At Bridal Veil our heedlessness
Found disconnected brains applied

My friend and I with cameras slung
Got out to shoot and chipmunks feed
My mother tired, said she would stay
If only they this choice agreed

Now Mom was left to guard the car
Till Betty came and said “You must”
So out they came with empty hands
And carefully locked up the bus

No one would get our purses there
Nor keys, not one spare billfold set
The cooler full of cokes within
Must now our thirsty throats forget

We left my mom within the shade
And walked 3 miles to Multnomah
We pleaded with the Lodge’s host
To let us place a credit call

Then back we trudged to Bridal Veil
This time in aching footsore pain
A blessed Triple A was there
We turned on cooler air again

And sat, and sat, and sat and sat
Too tired to move, too tired to breathe
My fervent vow from days henceforth
Was carry always keys in sheath

I do not risk outraged dispute
Both culprits in this sorry tale
When called, fond voices can’t be heard
They’ve left on ships, for Heaven sailed

Mom?  Betty?
I hope you’re having a good laugh.


This is a true story the final ending of which I do not know.  I hope for the best.


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


In small-town way I walked to work
Enjoyed the air, enjoyed the view
The ocean close enough to see
A melding of sea green to blue

One sunny day, thereafter on
A creature met upon my way
In filthy rags one might call clothes
If word he spoke a curse he’d flay

I felt unclean in passing by
So savage he when looking up
His hatred pure malevolence
Still cradled in his arms a pup

I did not understand his hate
Or why he vengefully destroyed
A lovely day in which to stroll
And mornings meant to be enjoyed

The next day I “Good morning” voiced
He mumbled in return a curse
“Good morning” then “Good morning” next
Some mumbled words but nothing worse

And lastly he “Good morning” said
In after days an almost smile
And on our final tandem walk
His clear “Good morning” came with smile

I never saw this man again
I moved too far away to walk
My hope, my prayer is someone else
Will say “Good morning” stop to talk


A welcome source of encouragement from poet, Frances Kakugawa, inspired me to expand my writing and, in so doing, experience abilities I thought beyond me. I doubt if my use of the haiku will ever be as free and natural as those gentle but powerful gems of Frances, but I will explore and share my explorations.


© 2016 Barbara Grace Lake


Kind, lovely Frances
Urged a poet on to write.
Doubtful mind set free

When words encourage
Silent pen takes up the dare.
Dreaming knights wake up

Onward! Ever on
Filling pages, or a verse.
Vivid minds create

Unused, living seeds
Gently woken, promise life
Poet writes haiku


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


From roof to tree to household wire
They swoop and dive, cry “look at me.”
How free, how fast, what soaring fun
Young nestlings finally set free

Until next year as parent birds
They’ll give their all from egg to hatch
And then give more to hungry spawn
Till nestlings fly away from thatch

If I had wings would I fly high
Above the clouds above the earth
Embrace the flight, as joyously
Escape forever place of berth

That place to which my life decreed
Was mine by choice and conscience bare
But when I might be duty free
Could I like birds dare dance on air


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


What if in cruelty hunters win
See regal elephants succumb
To bullets piercing flesh and heart
And at the last these ancients die

What if a fear of swimming sharks
Majestic mammals of the sea
A species old before man’s birth
Should lose their battle, disappear

What if all lions’ tawny hides
Hang bodiless upon man’s wall
As souvenirs of hunting skill
But lost for all the lion’s roar

What if the wolf pack hunting deer
No longer kills, is never heard
The elders shot at planted bait
Wolf babies poisoned in their den

What if all creatures killed by men
Will not again inhabit earth
But man’s a hunter, trained to kill
What will he hunt but other men?


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


A baby breathes its first long breath
Years later breathes a shuddering last
Between two breaths a life is spent
Unknown is how the die was cast

How did this person use that life
In thought of others, or of ease
How many markers on the way
Show guiltless aims or taint reprised

One breath, just one, the difference
Between a truth or truth betrayed
The choice is there, at times unseen
But none can choose another’s way

What value did this person place
Upon the young, help steer them from
Seductive paths of errancy
Missteps to which they might succumb

Or what temptations did he face
To choose dishonor if for gain
Who benefited from his being
Because he walked a road unstained

A world rejoices that he lived
This simple human being of worth
The cosmos welcomes him at last
Into the portage made at birth


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


When kitty wakes me every day
With softly mewing, snuggles, purrs
And gently cat-like cleans my face
It’s kitty love

When playing ball, a child strikes out
Dejectedly he leaves the field
His dugout teammates comfort him
It’s friendship love

The man I chose is challenging
He fails to fit the mold I need
I wonder as he’s walking out
If this was love

But children five I have of him
They fight, they quarrel, and make up
They also comfort, ease each pain
It’s kinship love

When listening to the masters play
A Liszt or Haydn offering
The faces of musicians shine
Because it’s love

Because it’s love


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Dimming shades we use on panes
To give us privacy at night
And dull the glare of summer days
They’re never meant to hide the light.

Nor were they meant to hide behind
Obscuring panels opening out
Nor shaped to shutter, darken minds
Increasing fear, recurring doubts

Throw up that darkened window blind
Enjoy a golden, sunlit breeze
While tossing shackles from your mind
Now let your thoughts adventure free


© 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 do 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

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