Grace Marie Grafton


The persona poem has been a lot of fun for me to write. To see the world/experience from another's point of view (even if fictional) helps me step out of my personality's limits. Doubling the persona, as I've done with Ernestine and Dougie, doubles the possibilities. They are, of course, two aspects of the same entity, so the persona becomes fuller, supports more facets. I suppose they could be said to express my anima and animus. And with them, since I stepped out of my "earthly" perspective, I felt freer to make them surreal, as well. They provide me with wonderful creative potency. Thank you, Ernestine and Dougie.




Speaking literarily


“I love hallways,” Ernestine whirls,
“especially dim ones where outside
light shifts in through doorframes,
rectangular oblique softspoken
slipping toward large straightforward.
I’m walking just
off center, off on my
right, right in the midst
of possibility.
Now I pass, it’s
just notional intimacy, no longer
even corner-of-the-eye, I’m moving
toward bedroom aperture,
a geometrical theorem I wave
my left hand at - shouldn’t
bedrooms always be
on the left hand? –
as I enter the lightest that seems
also the largest,
this kitchen.”
Dougie is drying the crystal
wine-glasses shaped like shards
of treading water, he holds them
up the way southern sunlight
pours in the windowpane. “You’ve
been in the hall again,” he listens,
“I can tell by the echoes and



Shelves, a poem in two shelves


“Art is in the word start,” Ernestine says.
She carefully lifts the lid off the pot
of carmine rouge. “So is star,”
Dougie observes, from the middle
of sitting in the sky, the part
that’s in their room. “Painting walls,
or one’s own body.” She sprinkles red
powder into a dish of linseed oil.
“To make up for deprivation, add
a bull’s-eye to the emptiness of white.”
“Something to climb into,” Dougie
agrees as he oils his fingernails red.

“End is part of surrender,
and people’s personal stories no longer
interest me.” Ernestine sorts swatches
of material – velvet, satin brocade,
Japanese cotton prints, soie de chine –
for the patchwork quilt she is
making as an heirloom.
“Even in novels, one must wait so long
for the main character to relinquish
pain. All the incidents: a general
caught in the vise – his dictator
orders him to treat his troops
like pins on a map. Cigarette-burn
scars on the six-year-old’s arms.
A woman’s anus having to be
sewn back together after the rape.
My skin’s too permeable, I can’t
continue to carry them through
endless opportunities.”
The gold thread
with the burgundy velvet, skyblue
with gold velour, there seems a rainbow
in the shiny square: purple thread there.
“You prefer to take baths and
listen to the woods,” Dougie says,
handing her her hiking boots.
“You prefer rain rather than
the symbol of rain. Here,
put this large see-through
swatch over the gash in your
chest, we don’t want your
heart falling out on the path again.”



Grace Marie Grafton’s poetry won first prize in the annual Bellingham Review contest, was a finalist for NIMROD’s Pablo Neruda Prize, and was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, Zero, won the Poetic Matrix Press contest. Her book, Visiting Sisters, was published by Coracle Books. Poems recently appear in The Modern Review, Ur*vox, good foot, Spoon River Poetry Review, and may be viewed at (also under G. M.Grafton).