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Eric Helms holds degrees from Furman University and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Some of his work can be found at can be found in the Asheville Poetry Review, key_hole, Prelude, Diagram, MadHat Lit, Souvenir, American Athenaeum, and Blunderbuss.

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Self-Portrait as the Dying Announcer Inside of You

I am writing to the dying announcer inside you,
drunk on his bar stool & dumb to his fourth act
of swallowing three goldfish.

The audience has walked away, blown their noses
and walked away to watch a trained seal count
your blessings while the glare of sirens grows near.

Soon the auditorium doors will slam shut, the mouth
of the ambulance will open and whistle you off
to the padded-paddle room

where three milkmen will fit you into your birthday suit.
You might order some McDonald fries.
Some angel will inject you with something

just right to make the world go all slurry.
When you wake up nothing will seem to fit.

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The moment you were born
A milk-white saucer fell from the sky,
Shattering 1st Base.
All the Saints came tumbling in from the Heavens,
All the Martyrs picked up a wrench
And so screwed their heads back on.

The moment you were born
A penguin marched off a shelf of ice
And so to its merry death,
A camel needled itself through the eye
Of a straw,
Breaking its back.

The moment you were born
Elvis was spotted in Deer Skin Leggings,
Walking into a SuperMart.
Lucifer quit his job
And so entered this wreck of a world
As all 10 pounds of you, Baby Blue!

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Portrait of Thoth at the Weeping Hour of 4:00am

The night swirled around the emperor’s hut
Wherein his majesty sat next to a garden chair–
On his plastic throne, counting the rooks and crows
That, one by one, had pecked out the hearts
From his flock of sheep. A tear scuttled down
From the third eye to his left cheek like a mini-
ature beetle or cockroach, parachutting
Into the macraroni salad and cold slaw,
Which he had left to dry on the floor.
He bent over the ochre chest droors of himself,
And began to whistle a childish lullaby
For his shadow to trot back from the graveyard,
Which was his front yard, where the half dollar
Of the pool-chalked moon, at 4:45, was beginning
To set within its cosmic slot, signaling some end was near.

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Place which is no place at all,
Field that is one blown_out shoe,
A tube of lipstick, two sprigs
Of grass_ where nail begets nail,

Tooth chips out tooth. Place which is
No place at all_ where the web
Is cut, the thread is pulled
Along the droop_headed path

That cleaves North then East then South
Again, trailing back into a cold morning
Of long ago, where the yellowed news_
Print of memory blisters as it sails across

The debris of thought, fading toward
The torn pages of tomorrow,
Which some god dropped
As it lept over, into what’s behind

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Locust herd from his mouth. Starlings sally.
And gash. Pour then circle from the bulleted rent
Of his chest. The plague of tourists volley
And rifle against the ochre skein of his horse-drawn
Flesh with the flash and recoil of instagrammed Kodaks.
He bows beneath a bow of oak, over a pall
Of muddled snow. The stilt of his shadow leans down to ask,
Do I know you; have you stalked me to here before?
To watch misery leak and weep from every pore.
Do you know me? as starlings veer and beetle over the open hanger of his mouth, begging for April’s shore.

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Last night I wrote a love letter to Gregor Samsa and this morning
Can’t you imagine the instant thanks I get? Waking up the ball-
Less alligator in a coy pond. My daughter was milking the neigh-
Borhood cow, and I don’t even have a fucking daughter. What
I have? Boatloads and Yachtworths of pills–pink, red, orange, in-
Digo–to take. Last night I wrote a love letter to Gregor Samsa
And this morning I find myself on every damn page of the Guin-
Ness Book of World Records. God Damnit, I go by many names.
Ask my wife–fucktard bitch, fallen psychopath fly, swat-head

                                                                                    Take your snack! 

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That night I was going to die
I was sweating out suicide
And too much beer.

I jumped up to the ceiling
Then shattered the floor.
That night I was going to die
My soul dropped into a cricket.

I pulled out all the lights
Then drank some red wine
In bed, listening to a mixed tape
Of Killer Mike and the Grateful Dead.

The sea was galloping out-
Side, a vulture was pecking circles in-
Side my head. That night I was going to die,
I was sweating out suicide, 8 days of Tequila

While sawing a five-thousand dollar
Piano in half, and setting fire to my
Mouth. The sea kept galloping south.

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INASMUCH the latent Owl might have been that
TooBoldCu[n]t of noise, as the Tare limped tremulous
Along while mumbling his little broken prayer to Death,

INASMUCH as Freud concentrated on the id
& that blind eye of calculus, calculating the bleak
Prospect concerning the dried-out administration

Of things if just to sustain himself against his own
Travails, feeling that feelings would give in to a doubt-
ful Dare against twisted roots of Night’s shade.

There then is an uneasy Acquiescence drooling
From which correctives range the Downy Owl
To Wolf’s Bane. From which a Chain-

Drooped Lamp Hounds Each Door, Almost Failing
The Half-Smiling, Downward Glance of Funeral’s Pace.

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Not Today, Bitch

Inside. At last. A slice of Angel Wing
Bobs on a hook. Outside there’s shattered glass.
This is Bushwick in the bottom of the

9th Inning, where no one is winning, where
The mailman lies
Dead center beneath the James Turrell hole

In my ceiling. “Are there any letters from Pink?”
My shadow is screaming. “I suppose” is
All I can muster before the red telephone rings.

It’s Bruce Wayne feigning a triple-decked heart attack,
It’s Bruce ‘Fucking’ Wayne begging for his mask back.

Not today, Bitch! is all I can mustard and mustang
And maintain before my x-wife bludgeons me
With a martini glass. Meanwhile, we’re having a blast!–

It’s the top of the 9th, and Bushwick is screaming,
Wake the fuck up & get to work or take that 2 for 1
Swirly at the Wyckoff First Baptist Church.

Outside. At last. A slice of Angel Wing
Bobs on a hook. Shut the fuck up
& get to work.

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Crow Sparks Drum atop Mt. Fury of Heart-Attack

Hitherward stretched out beneath Sun’s hartshorn
Crow whistles from a sorceress’ horn
Over the bearing edge like a hock or pledge
In pawn of some debt; so hitherward stretched,

Stretched out, over the bearing ruff of his Bodh-
ran’s batterhead.
Crow staunchly stomachs the red ruck
Of a ruddock still warbling. Still warbling like

A small European Thrush pledging allegiance
And so pleading to be spit, as Jonah
Himself, out towards the far-out wrinkles

Of the valley’s leghorn dock

Like a taximeter or stopwatch. Not
Skipping a clonic groan or, kah-kah, beat

From drum

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