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Eric David Helms holds degrees from Furman University and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. His first collection of work, VALLEY OF EMPTY POCKETS (published by MainStreetRag, April 2020) can be purchased via PayPal or check through the publisher’s website.
Some of his uncollected work can be found in the following lit mags and ‘zines: Asheville Poetry Review, key_hole, Prelude, Diagram, MadHat Lit, Souvenir, American Athenaeum, and Blunderbuss.

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I was complaining to the ants about the various birds flocking
Mad and backwards over and across the pinwheels of my lawn
As well about my neighbor who, straight from the yellow pages
Of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was beginning to drag his dusty broom
Of magic and circle my house. As I said I was complaining to the ants
About it all just being impossible–the various birds! You know,
Flocking mad and dark and backwards, disrupting the nature of
My beautiful pinwheels. Then, of course, my neighbor, let’s not forget
(fucking Dracula) how he still remained with his broom of magic,
Circling my house. It should be made known, here, at this very
Stupid point, that a Zeppelin from the leaden days of Count Ferdinand
Would announce itself out of the clear blue sky, but just to toss
And hang above my chimney like some outdated alien craft,
Dropping a picnic basket, which probably some moron mis-

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Ghost Chamber with Tall Door

It might have been at the tail end
Of some pop star’s swift-red carpet
Where I hounded in like a scarecrow
With the same old sniff of a sniffle
Along with my yellow-blue eye
Fixed upon the very yank and squirm
Belonging to a flash bulb, beneath which
A rabbit’s foot would twitch and then writhe
Next to the detached copperhead of a serpent.
An attempt to hop–notwithstanding all the phantom’s
Pain, mostly which entailed feeling the caught
Blue crab–dropped in next to the reddest of lobsters:
Its soon-to-be carcass of limbs beginning to make sway
To the very top boils of my own kitchen-yellow pot.
This, of course, could have been before a white
To black spotted Siamese cat began to strut
Away from her twin and into her particular tenor
Of drag, into this episode’s whole overall shot–
As this cat made her own Michael Jackson 1980’s
Cameo, slinking her model’s pearl-white, hook-sharp
Paw, as...

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County of Kings

From every fire hydrant,
Oil is spilling
Off the sidewalks
And coursing

Into Brooklyn’s inner-state.
The color is crude,
And every citizen is naked
Holding their rude heads

In the Easter egg baskets
Of their bloody laps.
Their burnt red bodies slip
And slide into the Enfer

Of industry’s brutal black.
The sands of Saudi Arabia
And Iraq shouldn’t be here
But are blowing everywhere.

I climb the greatest
Of Hell’s dunes
And reach beyond
The greatest Man-

hattan skyscraper–without oxygen
And while beating
The tiny blue bird
In my chest.

I ride a yellow camel,
Which is a brute taxi cab
Running out of gas.
Oh God!, I keep screaming

Oh God!, licking a hulk-red cloud,
Which peels off the sky.
The clouds tastes of soot
And yellowed Victorian’s wallpaper.

The barb from a poisonous wall-
flower pierces my tongue
And so suffices
For cheap jewelry,

Making my tongue fall dumb
Out of my...

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As a rabbit might wear a leaf of garbage as he busts mad from the top
Of a stovepipe while dragging a windless kite, we will find this prized magi
Left to one device as the holy fool shrinks back into port of his old,
Shriveled wand–wherein, wherein, wherein fact he still might be preparing

To mind the gap of time all at once; with the blink of an eye & out from
A circus peanut crumb placed inside one hourglass, the audience spies
The Mooncalf as he snaps back to a more considerable size–his red eye
Hailing not the yellow cab, which he thought might land him somewhere

In Sanghai, but to everyone’s surprise, an elephant as she stamps
Through the main theater doors, making for this final act of squash.

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When There Is No Cure for Insomnia

In the mind the xylophone keeps playing.
On a drum, I sit next to my shadow

Like a cartoon trapped inside the cold,
Lost cell of an unknown Dalí painting,

Flicking a lighter as I search the horizons
For any safe harbor of sleep. Overhead,

The moon has turned to a silver-
Dollar coin with the face of Kennedy

And soon will be dropped into the slot
Of one of God’s old pinball machines.

I think of song birds, how their ripe
First notes of poetry will spring

From an abandoned notebook of Keats,
I think of the stained middle page

On which he might have dropped his quill,
Stopped mid-sentence to cough

And spit up a few bloody raindrops.
The raindrops fall to my head.

The raindrops enter my brain
Where they dry black as squid ink.

In the mind, the xylophone keeps playing & playing.
I sit on the same drum and feel the whole Earth

As it sinks into the cold lost cell of a Dalí...

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Just as the day’s sun shuts her eye for bed,
An entwined puff of three nimbus clouds
Bellies out from the iron-lung
Of an ankle-monitored juvenile.

The kid maneuvers like a squirrel then more like a fly
Oompa Loompa as he tosses his blunt to the fall leaves
On a Bushwick ballcourt, hearing a drone pass over by.

Off Irving & Starr, from his back left pocket, you can read
The starched red color flapping for a title: the wild-west
Bandana of non compos mentis.
In other wor(l)ds, the Willy Wonka of street genius,

But a bit batshit–seeing how he’s travelling light,
Not with a Boy Scout’s white-picketed knife,
But a more svbtle pencil-sharpened icepick.

This after finishing his chore of burying a Glock
Somewhere in the backyard to his Grandmother’s house.
(Well, something like that.) Soon he’ll be heading for post
At a Knickerbocker laundromat. To pick up ‘the mail’ and wash

Some bills...

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The City of My Future’s Past

Beside a neon yellow bell clock
That for the past twenty years
Has sold the same stenciled time
And screamed only once

A grown-up boy scout might still be caught
Swallowing some Fred Flintstones
While thumbing the only string
On a detuned banjo

That he will insist is his guitar.
He’s wearing cut-off blue jeans
And a Texas pair of quick spurs–
Collecting those nickels, pennies,

Quarters, dimes, and the dust of some heavy
Duty concrete rubble, as this post-punk cowboy
Stands drunk next to two heavy-weight wastrels
Who’ve come furbelowed like a bad dose

Of Batman and Robin, rapping some whack!
About an ‘alien karate mouse’ & ‘a poodle’s fetus.’
Across the street, the string tied to a red balloon
Floats from a child’s hand and up to Venus.

I watch it float. I am that child.

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If This Be Invisible,


The kickdrum still may resound
Against a clown’s chorus
As this Punchinello steps off
The merry-go-round

Only to slump over
In a thorny bush
Where he will dream
Of the bull’s rush.


The stadium’s redzone
Is all plastered ears
With their minds ducted
To the same beer glass.

A fan will soon set down
His purple cowbell
And empty bag of peanuts
Before flouncing off

To the public urinal
Armed with an NFL-licensed spear
Lest he run into some Leprechaun,
Cowboy, Titan or Wanna-Be Buccaneer.


The clown stirs to the police’s baton
As it hammers for nail a bush’s thorn
Into his ass, down to the blistering point
Of becoming invisible. The clown scampers

Off into a New York alleyway
And, through a red-
velvet door, becomes invisible.
The chorus starts up.

Again, the chorus starts up.
Like the beginning of this poem
Through a kickdrum’s
Dark splinter of light.

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Sometimes I would happen to forget my place on the sofa
And lose my spot
From where I was reading
A passing whiff of mammatus cloud,

Beneath a pink balloon of hydrogen gas that by square knot
And yellow reel of yarn
I had secured to the cartoon sketch of my left thumb
As a ward might tie to a punk child.

A way to keep myself from completely being grounded
If not caught high and dry
The night I would keep tossing
Under a dumpster

That served mostly for a foul-smelling rock–such hard luck
Being the upshot from receiving the steel-toe boot
From the belly of my seventh sober trap.
In the desert polis of Albuquerque,

The city to which I had travelled
By the grey hound of a Delta.
The wobbly takeoff from Del Ray, FL
Much like my own attempt to steer a b-line

After copping a few nugs of nectar
To bring back to the hive.
The touchdown through the glass window
Of the garage

My way of...

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Beggar’s Joys

In a bandaged world that wears the same old emaciated crown,
And as Darwin’s caterpillar waiting for flight, flop,
Or some kind of Nike swoosh,
The poet of crutches lifts his wooden wings
Which are bound to his arms
Then blunders up the skull of a cracked egg mound.

Like Darwin’s Caterpillar or maggot
The poet of crutches falls off
And rolls all the way down
To be caught playing ‘ostrich,’
‘honey badger,’ or ‘stork.’

My head’s stuck in one of Philip Guston’s underground portraits,
The canvas has intentionally lost even the nosebleed of its focus,
So that the reader’s eye resembles a pinball with sunspots
After attempting to make out even this mouthful,
This mouthful which might only be implied by a lit cigarette
Trembling next to a leaning pile of burnt books, one which pops up

For this very image, that of a light bulb saying goodbye
As it dangles above four hooded men of the horse...

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