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Helen Sheppard

Updated: 10 days ago


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Helen writes poems about birth and those unheard. inspired by character and narrative from working as a midwife and with young people with lots to say. Activities and events Satellite of Love Spoken Word events. Delighted to be Poet in Residence, monthly open mics and community poems. FB satellite of Love, @SOL_Poetry Bristol Literature Festival, Children's event 'Bring your own Language', 2016 Town Choir, Bristol writer. Theatre Replacement. 2018 Sufi Poetry Bristol Festival of Literature 2018 Published; Lyrically Justified Volume 3, 2019 Tools of the Trade - Poems for New Doctors, 2019 Our Beating Heart NHS70, 2018 Voices Along the Road, 2018 Wild Women Press, 2018 Ink Sweat & Tears, 2018 Hippocrates Poetry & Medicine anthology 2017, I am Not a Silent Poet, Blue of Noon, Poems in the Waiting Room. Competitions Commended in Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Prize 2017 for poem 'Opening'. Performances Our Beating Heart NHS70 Launch. BRI Warm Milk, Tonic Torriano Meeting House Harvard Medical School, Boston Nuyorican Poetry Cafe, NYC Berkeley Square Poetry Revue, Bristol Persisters events London and Bristol


Opening A gestation reaches its timely conclusion Her muscled hammock softens, slackens I am with her wet slit, hands quiet, ready A head down pressure, spine to belly Her womb now taut as a new balloon I hear heart beat code, pains come, go A tuft of hair appears, recedes to tease Her skin peels over a spongy first frown I map read headland suture, fontanelle A flicker of eyelids, phantom of a new Her hands clutch knees, chin tucks in I prop her heel on my hip, bear down A nose tips. Bloodline, too early to know Her guttural sounds, deep, old as Eve I breath in rhythm between her pushes A fold of ear unfurls as lips pucker apart Her fingers stretch over, stroke baby hair I loosen cord. A rough touch can mutilate A breath held moment. Bruise blue runs to red Her opening forgotten, already starts to close. ------------------------------- Walking with Dad Dad says, when we are first born our stomachs are size of a walnut. He spews up his gut full of tiny cannibals who eat and eat and…, shares his cheese pickle sandwiches. He is empty Dad teaches a child to slide a rule. He tells me Logarithm and amoeba are proof of existence, computers will devour our facts and remember pies are always square never round He dims down Dad lies belly down over cliffs at Land’s End. A child straddles his ankles. He reaches for rocks for his rockery. They body pivot, stretch. Rocks splurge into squall They are budgies Dad sleeps behind door locks Hospital ghosts float too close He puckers to kiss and spit pills Pockets full of drop stitch holes, trail crumbs from chair to bed He has forgotten ---------------------------- Her name is Porcelain A porcelain girl waits for a boy, almost a man with easy smile. Fourteen and ready for love. She tries a toke, from a spliff. He says breathe, hold in your throat, feel mellow act bold. He gives titbits, phone, contacts his own. In lines they work her. An embryo, left battered, torn. Warm breath on lips, her rape angel grows. Feather down wings pierce, unfurl. Take flight. Sickle of moon catches her throat. This grace of a girl screams and shatters her porcelain face. ----------------------------------- Magpies Fly Home to Roost Two magpies flee roosts in 1880. An aproned service girl kneads dough at dawn, scours dirty pans with sand. My great grandmother. Great grandfather cracks shackles, bolts out of servitude. A free man, merchant seaman. Migrates Atlantic in filth and salt, docks coal black. Two magpies full of hopeful mirth, meet in shadows of an East End tavern. Doffs his hat, she flicks tail feathers, they coo softly and preen. A mixed opalescent pair, eyes bright by gas lamp. Her belly does swell. A nestling gorges on songbird eggs a foundling is found on a doorstep. Charcoal child, soothes off mothers last suckle. Wakens to thread shiny charms to apron ties. All our secrets never told as magpies fly to roost.

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pauline sewards

Sat 9th Apr 2016 20:14

Amazing imagery in these poems. I also like that they seem written from a deep well of experience of care work. The work is anchored in specific, realistic details but goes far beyond this.

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