Grace Marie Grafton, an active community poet, has taught in the California Poets In The Schools program for over thirty years.  She was awarded twelve CA Arts Council Artist-In-Residence grants for her work at Lakeshore Elementary School in San Francisco. Through her teaching, she became involved in US Poet Laureate (1997-99) Robert Hass’ annual River Of Words Youth Poetry and Art Contest.

After many years of seeing her poems widely published in literary magazines, her first book, Zero, won the 1999 Poetic Matrix Chapbook contest.  In 2001, her book of poems inspired by the artwork of contemporary women, Visiting Sisters, was published by Coracle Books. Ms. Grafton’s most recent books are Other Clues (2010) from Latitude Press, and Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, unruly sonnets (2012) from Poetic Matrix Press.  Other Clues is comprised of surreal prose poems.  Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, as the subtitle indicates, is Grace’s experimentation with the sonnet form. Author Tobey Hiller writes, of this book, “In these lush sonnets by Grace Marie Grafton the wild and the cultivated often collide.  Here the habit of observation and the outcome of wonder produce…the sensate pleasures of both language and being.”

Recent poems appear in Ambush Review, The Offending Adam, Talking/Writing, and Theodate.  Ms. Grafton’s poems have won prizes from The Bellingham Review, the Soul Making contest (San Francisco PEN Women), The Sycamore Review, and Coracle.

Ms. Grafton grew up in the central valley of California, earned her BA from the University of California Berkeley and her MA from New York University.  She currently resides in Oakland, CA, with her husband and extended family.



The arabesque melody.  I want.  Song
of the frog, song of the blue damselfly
to placate the welts rising inconsolably
on my classical score.  It’s too wary,
too fretful.  It wears a straight mouth, it wears
tight hose.  More nakedness please, more slippage.
The raucous raven’s song, boisterous,
irreverent.  Oh blaring trumpet, tickling
timpani, but I don’t stop there.  Open
the back door, open sequestered dawns,
midnight rain, the small silver fish.
I sit on the limb, lean against the trunk,
ask permission of the doves to watch them
set on eggs and create grey, create brown.

from Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, Poetic Matrix Press
first place winner, Soul Making contest, SF PEN Women



I leave nothing out.  The volunteer plum tree,
the river corridor when floods still
seeded the oak trees, no surprises
in the original family.  Beggar
any promise, parch or prosper, the two
witches in Macbeth, oh yes, composing
their curtains, their flurry, ash and brush. 
The quail cover Dad cultivated
at vineyards’ borders so he could shoot
the birds come September hunting season.
Mailbox painted red to shock the neighbors
and that was only the beginning of
the tale.  It was what grew inside the box
that wiped Mother’s smile clean off her face.

published in Ambush Review and Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, Poetic Matrix Press



Tambourine notes in the autumn tree, patch-
work color, a click-clack, a nerve shaken.
The way sap wants not to settle into cold,
though cold can betoken a fixed-lace fan.
To surrender really means to light an
inner fire.  Were I to die in the
bulk of December, wouldn’t it be best
to have seen the last scene as an etching?
Almost of bare-branched letters, almost of
revelatory words, those secret sounds
my life has been leaning towards, now shown
mercifully to be the angles and
shine of trees before storm, of the ice that
pins birds mid-flight, their eyes fixed on the sky.

Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, Poetic Matrix Press


The Loss

Her raga of discontent, hosanna of puerile self-love.  Haggle as she might with the Queen of Hearts, Oh please, a presence with gravitas rather than simper.  She’s not allowed to steal her destiny.  The populace will laud her, then castigate.  She’ll have to wear see-through over a silk bodysuit, no humility.  Paparazzi will spy, there’ll be no brother to turn to.  She could have cast spells with the candle before it got lost but thought herself too young to interfere with prescience.  Now only her shadowy backyard on moon-free nights will hide her from all who swear they love her.

Other Clues, Latitude Press, imprint of rawArt Press



The hasp of the chest flew open when it
landed in the spring-awakened field
two miles out of town near the willow-strewn
creek we remember catching frogs in.
The parachute bubbled down around it
but too late, the animal spirits had
escaped.  The air around the chest, around
the parachute’s silk, was in a dither,
worried that the music, too, would leak out,
which, of course, it did, slithering like some
slinky water creature heading for the creek
and, if it made it, the whole town
and all its environs would become parade.
The animal spirits would enter the bodies of
men who would feel compelled to drink
creek music.  Soon the hare would be
honking the cornet, the deer squeezing
out accordion wheezes and the sax —
well, you remember the dromedary
has been waiting since that instrument’s birth
to introduce to the world the Camel Rag.

The Sand Canyon Review


Grace-Marie Grafton at Moonday West

Photographer: Michael Grafton



2013 Grace-Marie Grafton

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