New Writing In Various Forms, edited by Michael Blackburn

The Review is now on permanent sabbatical.

Many thanks to those who contributed.

The rest, as the man said, is silence.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Three Poems by Helen Kitson

Red on Yellow

When I get out of here I'll never wear yellow.
That's the colour of the dress they made me sew.
Make it loose, they said, it's got to last.
The idiots and imbeciles wear anything -
Only the unmarried mothers wear yellow.

I'm no use with a needle but I made my dress.
Put shame in every stitch, they said.
Every time I did a seam I longed to tear it,
Fling it at the smug bitch in charge.
Not so pretty now, she said, when they cut off my hair.

They pester me with questions.
Was he married, and if not where was he? Had I tried
To abort this baby or any other?
I didn't tell them how I'd fallen downstairs
And how mam had found me, and how we cried together.

I broke her heart and I still don't want this baby
But I won't be ashamed of it, even when they sneer
At the gap where a father should be.
When mam comes to see me I try to hide my belly
And she never hugs me when she leaves.

My waters break when I'm chopping onions.
I ignore the pool I'm stood in. Maybe if I pay no heed
It'll go away. My hands shake so much I cut myself,
A gash across the top of my thumb.
Knives clatter to the floor. The blood won't stop.

I'm every woman, it's all in me

Her eyes are hidden behind sunglasses,
Her hair beneath a black chiffon scarf.

She wears gold hoops in her ears
And she dances barefoot in a circle.

In the mirror she leaves no reflection.
A trail of gold-dust marks where she's been.

In a puff of smoke she disappears.
Mirror mirror...oh yes, she is the fairest

But is she real? Was Marilyn a size sixteen?
Is every blonde born that way?

I have been into the forest for Snow White's heart.
I am not a man - her tears don't melt me.

Into the casket goes her still-pumping heart.
Not so pretty any more, is she?

But in the mirror, it's her face that stares me out,
Laughing at me. Born again, from ashes,

From glitter and sequins and mud.
She leaves lipstick kisses on the glass.


The sun catches the glass and spills into the room.
Dust motes flicker before my eyes.
We fall together on the old-gold eiderdown,
Coughing from the billowing dust. Ancient bed -
A deathbed. You put your hand over my mouth
To muffle my obscene giggles. No place for this.
And me, mock-sorrowful, but the sun's persistent,
It makes the eiderdown flame, it glints like metal,
Yet feels soft, welcoming as a nest, a feathered bed.
Your eyes on me, mine stray to a painting of my great-
Grandmother. Dusty hair in a bun. Jet earrings.
Her fingers like sausages. Whoever painted it
Couldn't draw. Her eyes avoid mine.
She smiles and looks away, leaving us alone,
Offering no comment, no judgement. No love,
After all, no recognition. You trace the shape
Of my face. Is it like hers? Can you see her in me?
You tip my head so that light falls on my throat.
You drop a kiss. I shut my eyes, but I see her hands,
Thick, with one ring, the wedding one. I hold
Your fingers, and kiss them; light falls, through the dust.

Helen Kitson lives in Worcester. Her most recent poetry collection,
Tesserae, was published by Oversteps in 2003. Currently seeking a
publisher for a collection of poems with a genealogical theme. More on Helen at

No comments: