Barbara Grace Lake

Poetry & Other Crimes


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Why angst and discontent today
What tolls a person’s happiness
Foreseeing pleasure or the fact
A languid Sunday morning feast
Too quickly gone, and dishes washed
Tomorrow then, tomorrow then

When still a child I anxiously
Would sit up late to Santa see
He never came but stockings did
Then Christmas morning ripping gifts
At night-time wondering what they were
Tomorrow then, tomorrow then

When in my teens I firmly knew
That happiness was twenty-one
But that day came there was no change
Adult or minor faces still
Uncertain future beyond reach
Tomorrow then, tomorrow then

A picnic planned, a rainy day
A blanket spread upon the floor
No taste forfeit in chicken legs
Why wait for sun to show its warmth
Enjoy each other till it does
Tomorrow then, tomorrow then

And then tomorrow is today.



© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


It had to be but yesterday
My memory’s so vibrant, clear
Of seventeen unfettered time
An age before a struggled life
Began when I was fully grown
But seventeen, ah seventeen

We’d spend a beach day frolicking
Enjoy warm sand and chase cold waves
Or badly skate for hours on end
At Palace Ice or Roller Dome
For special nights Palladium
At seventeen, dear seventeen

All underage so we’d sneak by
Unwatchful guards then dance and dance
To music live from Harry James
Count Basie or Duke Ellington
Keep time with drummer Sonny Greer
At our frenetic seventeen

On Saturdays the Long Beach Pike
Its scary roller coaster ride
Noon Sunday picnics Griffith Park
Illicit beer, cold chicken legs
Then plan a week of summer play
Assured of endless seventeen

Where did it go this magic year
How did it fall so far behind
How did a life come in between
Of military, marriage, kids
How did I get so old and pass
Sweet seventeen, my seventeen


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


This child much later grew to teens
Still immature in female growth
Cruel taunts of classmates targeted
Her skinny legs unbudded chest

In middle school, the insults changed
Now worst from girls instead of boys
She often walked three miles to home
deterring vicious bus-ride jeers

Some words so scary that she trod
On altered paths to help avoid
A brutish hulking girl who vowed
She’d take abuse to violence

But friend she found in late eighth grade,
Her people moved from out of state,
Too big to bully, smart to care
About foul words meant to demean

Her native Oklahoma drawl
“It’s how I talk, why should I change”
And so this child began to learn
That insults hurt but never kill


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


In frequent moves from school to school
One child was always new one out
Like others known in every home
Her family was known to none

At lunchtime she would sit alone,
Left out of break time chatter, fun
Her clothes too worn, untidy braids,
For sides not chosen playing games

She early learned avoiding pain
Was simple if one did not go
To be so ostracized disdained
She went instead to playground swings

Unsupervised she played for hours
Until she thought she should go home
But dark came early scaring her
And so she ran, and ran, and ran

Her mother put her right to bed
Thin soup and crackers all she had
Her schoolyard troubles never solved
She could not run away from them


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


On meeting friends that once one knew
Surprised excitement is the rule
Exchanged are numbers, vows are made
To get together, contact keep

Such was my meeting with BB
Astounded her, dumfounded me
Some history might be required
BB and I were high school friends

And in years past BB and I
Then thought to serve and joined the WACs
I found 4 years enough for me
Apparently BB did too

When out again, first husband gone
The dating mill I faced again
My neighbor’d met a man she said
Twas young for her, just right for me

Amazingly we hit it off
But his first words astonished me
I usually don’t bring a date
To see a stripper dance on stage

This woman has a gimmick rare
She stares them down, all leering clowns
And gains respect while making them
See visions of a bedroom brawl

I watched, and watched, and watched again
Each second my amazement grew
So when the stage she left I called
BB I yelled, BB, it’s me

Her last act done, we breakfasted
BB, her husband, date and me
Then numbers gave and vows we made
To get together, contact keep

I never saw BB again


© 2018 Barbara Grace Lake


Revolving, undulating hips
Suggestively a finger licks
She promises with arching back
Her sexuality for sale

Lewd shouts cry hunger pounding fists
Keep tempo as their mouths devour
Their raging eyes remove from her
The meager g-string, bra she wore

A lustful audience tonight
Brings dollars, dollars on the floor
Her rent to pay, her child to feed
Away from here, away from sex

Before this night the woman sleeps
She silent prays to keep her child
From knowledge that their lives depend
On sexuality for sale


© 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

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