“A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Recommended links:


Wild Honey Press

For a review of Helen's Until the Last Symphony Rises: www.ChicagoPoetry.com


Helen's Website

Email Helen


“the only of only being a woman” is from Until the Last Symphony Rises


For more poetry from Australia

Helen Hagemann Helen Hagemann

broken sandals

you drive to work, hear the falling of war
horror, horror at arm's length
heart too irascible, too helpless
to assuage this bludgeoning
of New York streets
all you can do is sharpen the instrument
appease this senseless act
in the life of a poem
forgive, forgive these humble words, dear reader
that think only of a crying field
dresses/suits drenched in goodbye
arms crossed under cotton stars

you pen alpha and omega catches up
moments in someone else's war
an assignment on personality
brought you the Colonel - Perth surgeon
with a long term memory, his book
To war without a gun
he knew war, he said, like a doctor
sewing back — a man's face
transient medico dodging sniper attacks
shifting camel-humps of sand
arguing, at thin attention, behind wired huts
for rice to sate men's bellies

in this woman's body
I've known anger, mostly fury
children slamming wire doors brought melodrama
skirts protected their crushed knees
of bewilderment
you offered anything in bed
for happiness—
while yours arms lifted and imagined
unzipping the sky

a sparrow falls
is a poem, is a hint of death
but nature has no memory or fault
half a bed is all you remember
of thirty three years
you could loose yourself to a woman
an inn and a donkey
follow the magi, some endearing star
but your heart wouldn't be in it
you'd only skirt the tracks in sandals
bought from a second-hand store

heaven never wanted it this bad
laugh lines swollen in disguise
polite sisters chewing veils of endurance
like those burqa women
too beautiful for words, hovering sand
in bazaar and stall
like mythical eagles in dark sunglasses

could there be some universal misery
between lonely girls who want to soar above the date palm?
(future poets perhaps, ready for voice and shelf)
it's all the same, east or west
imperialism traps us
orientalism traps others and the rest
designed by cranky patriarchs in 'control' laboratories
of voice
of skin
of mind
of personality
of THE imagination
some damaged at the neck
zippered at the roots
slits for eyes
we'll all pass on their seed
down the line
like blisters in radio silence

the only of only being woman

I want to write the language of my sex
hear the crack of rope again
a childish squeak of crosses into desk
I want the oranges and apples of my chest
to be those grown-up watermelons
I want to feel the crack and split
the burrowing erotic trip between two thighs
I want the moment when a raspberry splits my teeth
the naked juice cascading open lips
I want the bulging sweet fecundity
of birth again
the unconditional taste of love that opened every pore
of earth
earth's sweet parlay of flowers
happy birth
that barefoot walk of motherhood.
I want to feel again those suckling lips
swimming sleepy in my milk
that gentle calm of dummy rocking on my hip
I want a new un-written law
of 'woman' at the washing board
where stooped she dyed the sheets with blue
and hung them on the travelling hoist
or dropped them water cold
to copper hot
I want to
talk about the nothingness of being
backyard bound
the claim that wife and house are one
take out the flack, the jokes, the puns
the only
of only being woman