Carole Bromley – three poems

One of these Days

We really will turn out the loft.
There’s an old pram in there gathering dust,
a suitcase of baby-clothes, a ping-pong table,
those paper cranes Tom made in Japan.

Various wedding handbags in bright pink,
emerald green and that black suede one
Jo’s dad spilt gravy on while filling me in
on the big disappointments of his life.

I know there’s still a tea chest from the move
and in it old love letters, that photo
of you smiling awkwardly at Caversham Lock
before the Head of the River Race.

Somewhere in there, too, is the wooden jeep
John made for the Action Men
with a bonnet that opens up
where we kept all the odd Sindy shoes.

I picture the last Action man
dressed in the sweater mum knitted,
propped, leaning back in the driving seat,
eagle eyes staring into the dark.

My Case

Its abandoned doppelganger
goes round and round on the carousel
long after the crowds have left.
I curse myself for not tying on
a sparkly Christmas ribbon,
for not painting a Union Jack on it
like we did on our tortoise.

I walk through Nothing to declare
and out into bright sun, in my hand
Ted Hughes, The Unauthorised Life,
a banana, crisp new euros in a purse
I never use, and sunglasses.
I hail a taxi, feeling oddly weightless,
my knickers, my six ironed T shirts gone.

A breath

We can’t say they haven’t warned us.
The path is beautiful but treacherous

but we go anyway, slithering and falling
through the woods and up the rutted track

where the air is suddenly cold
and so sharp it takes our breath away,

and we’re too busy admiring the view
to give a thought to getting back

through the gathering dark, our signals dead,
to the meal already on the table.

Carole Bromley has three collections with Smith/Doorstop, A Guided Tour of the Ice House and The Stonegate Devil for adults and a new collection for children, Blast Off! 

Carole Bromley – four poems


That day I walked around at lunchtime
with notes for a poem in one pocket
and a banana in the other,
the larches were so beautiful,
all fuzzy as if making their minds up
and a hawk circling above
a vole who had plans for the afternoon
and was on his way home
with the vole equivalent of groceries
and a piece of news he was dying
to impart, and if he never made it
he might be consoled that I put him,
all quivering and velvet-pawed,
into this poem before I ate the banana.

That Café

I wish I could remember its name,
that café in Reading in the sixties
that was open all night. Like home,
if you went there, they had to let you in.

Sometimes it was buzzing with students
high on caffeine, pot, alcohol, love.
You’d slide onto a bar stool
and nod, knowing they wouldn’t judge,

that they’d understand this need
you had to just keep going,
to join one day to the next
without a pause in between.

Sometimes you’d go there with a lover
after the halls’ curfew, after chucking out time
at The Three Tuns, after climbing over
the cemetery wall, reciting Reading Gaol

It seemed that if you slept
the summer of love would pass you by
and you’d lie alone in your single bed
till the dull sun peered through the curtains.


The letter that never arrives,
a snatch of song through an open door,
a delicacy that’s off the menu,
that warm fur coat in Harrods’ window,
the last bottle of red from the Mary Rose.
A bed – oh yes, a bed – the kind you sink into
with sheets so white, so new they creak.
A view of an ocean with sherbet waves,
an uncut first edition Keats locked inside a cabinet;
they wear white gloves to show you it.
Winter, though. Winter. Dead silence
in a forest of tippexed trees.

The first time I saw you naked

I said, ‘You’re so beautiful.
How can you possibly want me?’

and you replied that I was beautiful too
but I think you were just saying that.

I wasn’t. I meant it. I’d never seen anything
more lovely, never wanted anything so much

and you were mine for that one night.
I held the most beautiful thing I’d seen,

the thing I most wanted.
Not many people can say that.

Carole Bromley’s second collection, The Stonegate Devil, was published in October by Smith/Doorstop. She will be judging the York Literature Festival/YorkMix Poetry Competition which opened for entries on November 1st. Carole holds poetry surgeries in York for The Poetry Society (see the website for full details). Her website is at

Carole Bromley – four poems

Dinner parties

I’d leave my knickers off
put on black suspenders
and watch you suffer
through the grilled grapefruit,
the moussaka, the orange cheesecake.

Then I’d slip out of one high heel
and tease you with my stockinged foot
while you handed round blue nun.

Somehow the washing up
never got done.


I would have liked to amuse your mouth,
would have loved to hear you order
Osso Buco in your dark red voice

while I chose some light, exotic dish
of asparagus, goats cheese or fig
and rolled the stem of my champagne flute.


Do they make them any more,
those kisses of silky milk chocolate
with a poem in the twisted wrapper?

I would like to open one now,
find a line from a love poem
and feel it dissolve on my tongue.

New Year

The world was the consistency of pavlova
the morning you walked away;

you crushed it with your first-footing
out over the threshold

and for days it relented a little, then made its mind up,
froze over

till, after a week, your footprints had gone
as if they’d never been

and the pillow where you’d laid your head
plumped itself again

until even the smell of you had dispersed
into the cold air.

I might have thought I’d dreamt it all
except for your glass, your cup,

that particular smell the air has just before
the first flake falls.

Carole Bromley’s first collection, A Guided Tour of the Ice House, was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2012. She writes a regular poetry blog at and is currently judging the YorkMix/York Literature Festival Poetry Competition (deadline 28 Feb). Her website is at