Charlotte Johnstone

Charlotte worked as a teacher and psychiatric nurse. She has written children stories for television. She was a regular reader at Friendly Street for over a decade. Her poetry has been published in anthologies and magazines as well as a number of Friendly Street Readers.


She’d never really seen
An open fire,
How fingers trace
A reflection
Of flames dancing.

She’d never really seen
The spontaneous smile
Of a child
When she feels
Rain on her face.

She’d never really seen
The season,
Tasting a summer
Where tassels of hair
Toss in the salty air.

She’d never really seen
Pervasive suffering
In the eyes
Of emaciated children
Pleading from pages.

And now?
And now…
She sees so much.

From Friendly Street No. 12

Old-Age Home

Frail aged hands
Melt into laps,
And people
Melt into walls.
Everywhere beds and chairs
Spill their contents,
And someone
Spills their tea.
They’re held together
By fragile seams,
Like thin cotton nighties.
They are placed
In the sunshine
Where they cling
To the verandah
Like gnarled and stunted vines
With curled up leaves.
Perhaps they resent
The setting of the sun
For the nostalgia
Of the morning.
Perhaps they resent
Those white, white sheets –
Where wrinkles so easily
Iron away!

From Friendly Street No. 13


Like a glossy black ribbon
sweeping through the air
Tasha wraps herself
round someone’s legs.

finds it hard to heel.

Tasha – sheer energy
propels upwards
like an elastic band
snaps back crisp and sharp.

find it hard to heel.

and Kirsten – four years old –
runs with autumn and a dog,
catches cold air in her teeth,
laughs, understands when Tasha

finds it hard to heel.

From Friendly Street No. 18