Three poems by Helen McClory

between / credit: debetween / credit: de


All I want now myself only is to
Wear kimonos with velvet
Bralets, high-waisted velvet knickers
The colour, close enough, of my skin
Sit by windows, smoke cigarettes
On long bone-handled
Holders, and to die

Whisper it into a jar
Leave it there to ferment
Spit and air make alcohol enough for me now
As long as there are grains of sand
Stuck in my bikini, I will suffer

I tell myself
If you’re going through hell
Take a buddy and make sure
To note your enemies, and the punishments of your enemies
He called me oracle once, some man.
There’s no way to find him here
Dante was thirty-five. A grave, distinctive face
Different this is from your Jesus year

What I want now only is just walking
In this wood &
Feathers like little leaves of the untimely dead
Rising in puffs, little breaths, affirmations
Around my living form
Suppose with time you guess the labyrinth’s
Red coils; Suppose then it can’t help
but hold you
upright, and lead you later to some later end


If you consider life to be parsimonious, ungenerous, mean—consider the passion flower. Meet me in the fog if you’d like to fall into my tenticular bloom. Night flowers, too, offer words of comfort. They whisper, if you’d been asleep, you’d have missed this. I am them too, their sisters, them. The way I smell. The way I haunt the cascades of your cities. The wrinkles on my belly. Nothing makes sense except passiflora and other spectacular trembling visions. If you look at a flower and it is missing a petal, or a part of it is brown, you don’t think, this flower is unworthwhile. This flower ought to never have been bloomed. We all hold our breath, we all let it out again one last time. So—consider the origin of the word passion. You know its tensions, the line of blood trickling down from the navel. Here, now. Just a second, I am steadying my hand. To get your stamen into focus, against everything against the foaming white.

Scenic Headland

If we go this way, we’ll meet
The ocean oil-painted and black with birds
From the interior
Or this, for holy outcrops, fields
Of luminous breadcrumbs
Or; the city fogged with singing misery
And foot traffic bridges, and kiosks
Selling our own hearts and sugared
Coffee alike. Palm communiqués
Colours might be: gold, brackish, velvet

Or, we could go nowhere, small
As one voice decomposed,
Background of wind, interference,
Channelled through receiver
To reception, party to parter
I say we, like am agent
I say we, like some true nerve
could travel the length of our distanced
Bodies, branch a thousandfold, pine them together
To an us
I know, beloved, signals fail. Directions
cardinal too with too much
Authority rule not even
The free will to leave off standing, stalled.
—Though, still, disheartened, I whisper
Into the mouthpiece; I’d go so far
To say it’s beautiful, this view.

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