Saturday, 24 September 2016

On Being Left

On Being Left
By Helen Birmingham

With my eyes closed
I stare at you.

Did I pull the words from your mouth like vomit, and then
Watch them pierce my flesh.
Watch as each hole.
Each scar,
Each wound,
Bled with your words?

Your sentences drew blood from my lip, as I
Writhed and fought to keep hold of you.
But when you were done with me
You simply snipped the thread, and

I know.
You made me beautiful.
So who scribbled onto my beauty
With these scratches, scars, knots and tangles?

In our white box with padded walls
So many words were stitched.
Now everything is black knotted thread.
And with my eyes closed,
I stare at you.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Why Did the Old Woman Cross the Road?

Why Did the Old Woman Cross the Road?
by Helen Barter

A road separates two old ladies,
on opposite sides, both dressed in turquoise coat
and beige trousers. Each wearing one red shoe;
both leaning slightly, to opposite sides,
listing with the weight of their shopping.

Which one will cross to meet the other?
They both set off, step for tentative step,
no eye contact, no gesture of recognition.

A road still separates the two old ladies,
on opposite sides, both dressed in turquoise coat
and beige trousers, each wearing one red shoe;
Now walking, in opposite directions,
listing with the weight of their worlds.

First Oyster: French Kissing a Mermaid

French Kissing a Mermaid
by Helen Barter

Mouth curves to meet lover's gnarled lip.
Expectant tremble of anticipation as 
tongue touches tongue;
slide then swallow her
salty gift of 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Reader, she married him.

Reader, She Married Him
By Helen Barter

Ignore that remnant of the past, 
screaming from the roof, and
walking the corridors after dark.
Did she leave because he lied?

What if he had told her?

Would they simply have pined
for that which they could not have?
Lived a life frustrated.
Screaming in unison with 
the anguished soul of another?
She would not accept
the remainder of him.

What if he had asked her?
Turn a blind eye to attic-bound death 
in exchange for sight and freedom?
What if he had asked her that?

Was that punishment for his lies
or absolution for his sins?
Reader, she married him.
The burnt and beautiful remains of him.
Not the remainder.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


By Helen Barter

Out, damned spot! out, I say!
Here's the mark of regret still:  
All the lasers of Harley Street
Will not sweeten this misjudgement.
I must bear the scar.
What's done cannot be undone .....

Thursday, 15 January 2015

1970's Mere

1970's Mere
by Helen Barter

And there we were
you and me, in a beautiful pea-green 
paddle boat.
Bright red handles of
innocence turning 
bare knee brushes bare knee
and the sun shines.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Edison's Elephant

Edison's Elephant
By Helen Barter

All the fun of the fair.
Smile for the camera.
Smile damn you, smile.
Smile as the foetid smoke rises
from between your toes.
Smile as you fall; darkly.
Rigor mortis
stiffens my resolve
as well as your tortured body.