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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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I became sick of life as a man sick and bent over from reading–
instead of warmly putting his book to rest and, for next evening,
saving the final chapters in store–coolly strikes match after match,
reducing the pages of what might have possibly unfolded to a pile
of ash which, by now, has quite plausibly blown through your own
cellar window, basement door. Either way, no matter how one
attempts to look at the soot, this changes the whole story al-
together. And, for some reason, this time, even I am a little curious.

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Ars Poetic^ 2.2

My poetry?
It’s like Big Bird
walking into
a bar

and (after a few successful strides
towards the water fountain)
tripping over a canoe
that just happened to be there

before brushing himself off
catching your eye
at which point

you’ll both become quite speechless
though after a few seconds
it is only you to (so suddenly) feel
out of breath.

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el topo

Some stories burn
on forever, page
after page–

little picture books
that royally stick
to the same nasty
progress, capturing

the same gentle wisps
of smoke peeling off
the same coated cigarette,

which (like our one
matching claim
as to God)
never quite ex-

while x
the spots

where we perhaps
during the match
might retire too soon–
that or keep at it,

more and more fragilely,
traveling the cheap
wicks of our existence.
As it’s here today

on our own rotting span(s)
of plank until we’ve been
handed a red balloon,
black umbrella with which

it’s kerplunk!–off
the same fucking
diving board,

which some manage to grade
down to the splintery shiver
of a toothpick, preaching
from the sad gospel of their errors.

Perhaps, shaking their crystal balls,
just like so, so that it amounts
to the same deaf ear of getting

nothing in return but 8th-grade algebra
which then always...

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Experiment for Homing Pigeons

A few confused sketches of tomorrow’s disaster
is all we got: brief dark shadow of a chainsaw
followed by a General’s stumped toe as it drifts
likely as a bloody cloud of massacre (the best,
most regal course) over a couple lousy matches
of smoke. But it’s a long way (this disaster?)
from where we are now in the checkout line,
only wearing a pair of suspenders while bearing
a tuba, dropping an egg, sniffing a doughnut.
And that’s how I feel: turning to a fine powder,
hunched over in the cabinet of time, collecting
a fine coat of dust. Like a useless medicine,
whose only boon fills my head with the passing
chatter of pushcarts, one which just happens to be
(quite absurdly) spilling over with all the cigarette butts
I’ve ever coolly dropped off a Brooklyn rooftop
in a cooing type of isolation. As patient as a child
or a worm beneath a rock. And with my hand
reaching out, just waiting...

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To Himself

Where’s your tambourine, O bear that just stands there?

So I have come to you without knowing
Listless and reduced of mind
Beyond the street corners of reality
Against the tallest hours of sleep

I live then without personality
Dragging the broken necks
Of my fantasies out of which
The same tongue labors:

I ended up here for no reason
For no reason at all
And now must find a lap
in which to weep.

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My Love

And today against everything the dry well at the bottom of the heart
An incomplete deck of playing cards sleeps in the clenched jaws
Of a monk’s severed hand: I mean … . Oh well … . My Love … .
The bruise will stop by later as I walk in the real world but (again)
Into its deserts, its absurdities

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Une Saison en Enfer

One shot. In the past. A while ago. If correct. My life
Was one long bash where all hearts stretched wide
Into dry, leather maps as telling as the palm,
Where all waters west kept running as wine into the night

I pissed on Beauty’s lap and so found her annoying.
Silent, I smiled again into sunrise
And from the mousetrap broke my fast in an empty,
non-fungible absorption.

I have never pledged to do anything:
Again. Most astrally [sic] debauched.
A hyena that becomes a scorpion.
In spirit, I yawed myself in the mien

Of crime, through the pure tedium of existence.
With dead lips, I played the Devil’s trombone,
The Angel’s trumpet. In and out
Of that supreme (surréaliste) horror.

Ach!–have I said too much? Between us
Hell shines from its prison like the sun
Through prophets’ pierced eyes
Which our executioners keep frozen

In one cathedral’s stained glass window.
But precious...

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A number of heads (identical) prying out window (broken), observing
passage (ponderous) of elephant (inflatable).

Now to my point (bobbing) about the polka (dot, dot, dot) and the resurrected mime (name: Bubbles) being open for business.

Now to my point (capsized) about my third eye (anchored) where your toothpick’s still lodged.

Now to my point (not formulated) about the flowers falling (down-the-mouth).

Now to my point (brobdingnag) about how long can I let my thoughts smoulder in this place?

Cyclops; Arges, Steropes, Brontes? You won’t encounter them.

Mr. Bones took the cardinal from the queen’s tongue. Proceeded to chew on her necklace. Mr. Bones took the bullfrog from the pope’s mouth.
Proceeded to retch on the carpet. Mr. Bones took the cabinet (baronial)
from the president’s chest. Proceeded to march through a great flood.

Why? There is no why.

More extremely...

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Last Supper

Raised from the smutty toaster of death … .
At Five A.M., already drinking stale beer
With Lucifer’s sunny switchblade at your throat
While the neighbor with the bad cough
Jumps rope at the humming edge of the world … .

I should have tipped my hat to him but distracted
I was by the smell of freshly-cut roses
Cackling up my spine
As a hearse (black cape, blindfolded eyes) idled past
Heading for the famous train I saw in a painting once … .

‘It’s just a dirty fib,’ I’ll spiel to them
As they tuck their gods
Into cradles, tie their houses to kites
And gently piss against the wind

Praying the wind might whisper some-
Thing like a last supper back to them.

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If anyone moving forward asks what I look for in the work of my peers and particularly myself, that of the past and what still is to come, I leave no agreeable recipe; no burdensome, by-the-book formula. Quite the opposite, I follow Wittgenstein’s wily (if not numinous) approach to the dissemination of Philosophical thought, providing those of you there in the future with the following aphorism, which will suffice for my obiter dicta:

“A sound poem should have the impact of a consonant (turned-up, perhaps, at times, even clangorous) punch to the ear.” EH

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