Constance Frazer

Constance Frazer (1925 -2002) co-edited Friendly Street No. 13(1989), published her first poetry collection, Other Ways of Looking (1988), with Friendly Street Poets, and was anthologised in Tuesday Night Live (1993). Her poetry appeared in 24 Friendly Street Readers.


are decorative hung cloth,
a slang term meaning death.
These new chosen ones I stitch, why
though I admire them I do not like them?

Because the room so bare without them
inevitably brightens? No.
In theatres drawn curtains conceal
or reveal a stage – as though

curtains now and again I observe
the slow swift childhood of two small girls;
at their very age – years since
from Scottish hills I saw one night the Aurora –

phenomenal lights once thought
to be reflections of the ice
at the ends of the earth.
Strange moving unearthly curtains!

From Friendly Street No. 7 and Tuesday Night Live


Early morning
in the still dark room
how they argue
through thin belly walls;
obtrude like inconsiderate neighbours
their rude underworld of pipes
– flutish liquid trickles and deep bass
bassoon booming down the bowels.

Not then, to the birth-shocked baby-mind
some splendid immaculate conceiving
in bird calls or waterfalls, gales
through trees or hollow log

but early shit-mutterings
falling on an unresistant brain
as soft persistent
drips from drains dent mud
– the slow red cataract of maternal blood
slurging through the first flesh drum
pounding the heavy rhythms in
– so that at last, we must come
to life and light
already programmed to make Music!

Then do not despise this flesh
but rather laugh at your own pretensions
if Music as all else human
begins and ends right here – vibrations
of heart and gut
striking straight home
to heart and gut!

From Friendly Street No. 9 and Tuesday Night Live


Even now
a sunsplash of yellow
in green lawns

might be appreciated if
we hadn’t been warned. I
used to wonder where
the name came from and why

“dent-de-lions” – teeth
of lions? Absurd to compare
with fangs of large felines
a ball of fairy puff
ragged flower and leaf.

But his plant had
weird powers.
There was in France, I read,
another name, direct and crude.
Though every child I knew
had fair knowledge
of the risk to those who
blew the seed or plucked the flowers
– some did

ran home in dread
to dreams of savage
lions, woke to a misery
of sodden sheets, as if

to prove
it parents saying “We
see, you’ve
been picking dandelions!”
The petals’ wrath.

Pitiless as the lion’s mouth
was “piss-en-lit”
or wet the bed.

From Friendly Street No. 17