Like a chamber of mirrors is the tale
of the girl who told tales to save her life
in the garden of a tyrant and his hushed retinue.
A thousand tales, a currency, a knife—

else tabernacles or talismans or tremors
in the counsels of the older and crueller,
moth besieged flame to arrest the desert’s darkness.
The tale as tamer of hubris;

the bargainer with death, the diplomat
who says— give me just the story’s brevity
the pang and glister of its arc
I’ll make my case for life.

Boys Will Be Boys

It means: he never saw a window without
shattering it. Or unbaked tar without soon

corrupting it with a foot. Picked the wings
off flies for sport on an empty dust addled

afternoon. And he shouted after the girls
liking the way the blush sped up their faces

like a drop of blood in a bowl of milk—
It means he wept for his countrymen in the field

and came to blows for them in foreign bars.
All big shouldered sentiment, a knife trick

or a faulty firework. Boys will be boys.
They stand like full stops instead of commas.

You could always spot the bards among them
and the hangers on; like stray pieces of

electricity in the park. Drinking like their dad
saying “whore” the way he said it. They’re

married now, with kids, but somewhere
still they are boys. No one could

hurt them. In their laughs
terror clattered, a bag of rocks.

Grace grew up in Edinburgh and has been writing pretty much ever since she knew how, but most often when avoiding responsibility. She was a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2013.