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Poem by Helen Burke – What Becomes of Happiness? September 5, 2017

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What Becomes of Happiness ?

What becomes of happiness ?
Maybe.
Maybe there was just one day when you were happy.
Maybe you were small – 6 , 7 or 8 ?
Maybe you thought you had wings ?
Stood in your garden and planted a tree that a passing tramp had given you ?
Maybe you watched amazed as the tree grew in minutes and you
Climbed it , dizzy with the happiness of the day ?
The tree that wants nothing from you except that you climb it ?
Was that how it was ?

Maybe you sat up there, high , with the birds of paradise –
Saw what they saw, felt what they felt
Looked down on the whole world spread out before you .
Saw there were no shadows … maybe …

Maybe someone shouted then –
“Come on down now. Your tea’s ready . “
And you did , and that didn’t matter because
The tree would still be there after tea, just waiting for you.
And you climbed down, rung by rung , taking care not to damage your wings,
The leaves all the while whispering like lemon drops
And the scent of carousels and rainbows in your hair –
Just yourself in the crook of the day and the feel of those wings
And yourself with the sense to use them.
Maybe.
And all night and all day , you could go back out to that tree,
But you forgot it was there and someone said –
“A big girl like you doesn’t need wings. She needs to keep her feet on the ground.”
And maybe that’s how it was – until – one night ,
The tree could bear it no longer, and because it knew no shadows –
Maybe the tree began to sing , to call out to you
And knocking on your window came those birds of Paradise saying –
“Where have you been , my old friend, where ??”
And maybe you take your wings out from under your pillow
And trust once more to your feet in the dark.

And maybe that’s how the song that is happiness
Gets to sing in your life, all over again.

BIO:

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories, plays, comedy sketches and does painting and visual art.

 

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Poem by Helen Burke – Nobody believes (but everybody wants to ..) March 28, 2017

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Nobody believes (but everybody wants to ..)

This is a road poem.

This is an on the road poem ,.. this is a poem on the road.

Write it out . Print it out , sing it out , dance it out , paint it out ,

Let it out , dream it out , taunt it out , wait it out , sit it out , smash it out , trash it out , write it as a banner and wear it in you heart – wear it on the inside and show it to anyone who’ll listen and listen to anyone you can as you are

Walking , hunched over, tormented by the sidewalks and nudged by you own collapsing vision and the masquerading acceptance of the creosoted bars of

The world which is caving in , crashing down , crumbling around you – even as you DON’T speak , even as you do nothing. Where have all the good guys gone ?? where are all the pretty women you once knew ?? who does the kid in the playground look up to ?? – why cant it be you ??

There’s a guy shouting from the second floor window – if you could only hear what he’s saying – the rot would stop – the flood , the volcano and the plague of lethargy and despair that is the wall we call air – shout louder fella , shout louder I said LOUDER – I’m a long way down – we are all a long way down . and the only way is up , baby – up the length of a saxophone playing in the June sun on the corner of dragonfly street and the mystical avenue of where did it all go wrong .. and what the fuck happened to my dreams?? to my youth to the cream in the coffee , to the worn out pair of boots someone thought were mine and that they knew me by – we each have our own tread, our own way of shadowing that which cannot be shadowed , which will not be loved. Imitate a frog and move on sister – move on ma brother – make like a didgeridoo in the wind – why is there nothing left to believe in ?? (but everyone still wants to .. deep down ., low down because across town – we are all going across town , across the river , the across the mountains and out of our minds , clean out of our minds – looking for that girl , that guy , that impossible day when by the light of the subway – the fucking doors open and the world is , the world is no longer a nightmare and the world has come home again. And you can breathe again – and the world has come home and my sister the saxophone greets me and I fall into the arms, into the ARMS of my brother – the half-sprung moon.

Oh yeah.

 

BIO – 

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories, plays, comedy sketches and does painting and visual art. She has a new collection called”Today the Birds Will Sing “ coming out with Valley Press in the next couple of months.

Her work has been widely published and anthologised.  She has won a number of competitions such as Manchester International, Norwich, Suffolk, the Yorkshire prize, Southport Comedy, Jersey, Devon & Dorset, Torbay and many others.

Her work has been published and distributed in America by www.origamipoems.com, based on Rhode Island, she has 15 chap books with them, having formerly read at Roots in Providence. She has recently been made an honorary member of Ocean State Poets.

She reads at many literature and music festivals in the UK and read with former Poet Laureate ,Andrew Motion.She is a regular host on E.L.F.M Radio in Leeds featuring many of her own poems and guest poets and musicians. Her work is described as witty, surreal, humane and accessible,commented on by Gillian Clark

Poem – Snowed In by Helen Burke December 29, 2016

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Snowed In
by
Helen Burke

And ..some people spend their whole lives , snowed in .
But we’ve been lucky , we have braved the blizzard
And gotten soaked through to the skin.
Do you remember the funny house in Wales
And waking to a prisoner level of the white stuff.
It felt like a weight had been lifted from me
I could just stay within the snow circle
And let the frost and the icicles do the rest.
Everything was white , my soul , my bones , my blood.
And yet I have never felt so alive.
As if a great drifting lay above and below me
And little particles of my small self dissolving
Into the December day .
From the top window I could still see the world ..just .
I could see the perfection of what might be achieved
If we could just hang on in there …
And a figure walking in the distance that I knew
To be myself.

BIO

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories, plays, comedy sketches and does painting and visual art. She has a new collection called”Today the Birds Will Sing “ coming out with Valley Press in the next couple of months.

Her work has been widely published and anthologised.  She has won a number of competitions such as Manchester International, Norwich, Suffolk, the Yorkshire prize, Southport Comedy, Jersey, Devon & Dorset, Torbay and many others.

Her work has been published and distributed in America by www.origamipoems.com, based on Rhode Island, she has 15 chap books with them, having formerly read at Roots in Providence. She has recently been made an honorary member of Ocean State Poets.

She reads at many literature and music festivals in the UK and read with former Poet Laureate ,Andrew Motion.She is a regular host on E.L.F.M Radio in Leeds featuring many of her own poems and guest poets and musicians. Her work is described as witty, surreal, humane and accessible,commented on by Gillian Clark

Poem: The Electric Kool Aid meditation Dog by Helen Burke October 22, 2016

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The Electric Kool Aid meditation Dog

This dog knows.
He just knows.
He is here to unlearn everything.
He knows that time spent running on the sand, is time
Well spent.
He knows that the lead kept in the drawer , will never
Be the boss of him.
He knows that 2 and 2 are a pointless exercise.
He knows that pockets just weigh you down .
He knows that what a dog says is what he means.
His whole life is a meditation .
He wants to travel , but always remain here , by the fire.
He wants to understand the pictures in the flames.
When he unravels string , or chews up a box
This is his way of saying – I am alive and I love you.
More string and boxes would improve the world.
Never assume that there will always be tomorrow
To run on the sand.  
Empty your pockets, bark while you can .
And run.

BIO: 

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories, comedy sketches, plays, and does painting and visual art. She has a new collection called “Today the Birds Will Sing ” coming out with Valley Press in the next couple of months.

Her work has been widely published and anthologised.  She has won a number of competitions such as Manchester International, Norwich, Suffolk, the Yorkshire prize, Southport Comedy, Jersey, Devon & Dorset, Torbay and many others.

Her work has been published and distributed in America by www.origamipoems.com, based on Rhode Island, she has 15 chap books with them, having formerly read at Roots in Providence. She has recently been made an honorary member of Ocean State Poets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem – Talking to Actresses by Helen Burke September 2, 2016

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Talking to Actresses

We meet the four of them in the green room ..
And they seem amazed we are there .
They are each like jewelled butterflies , fluttering and vying
For attention .  But if you ask ….
They will deny this .
They are modest , unassuming ..one wears a child’s bow in her hair.
Another patent leather shoes.  The fourth older one looks glum.
Already they have started being nice to her …
So she knows its all over ..bar the shouting .
The pretty one makes us coffee but forgets to put the coffee in ..
It’s all such a joke to her.
The famous guy comes in …they all slink past him , brush a breast , a leg against him
In case he’s in any doubt.
He’s not.
We try and ask about the play ..but they are like bucking broncos
And we get nowhere.
The pretty one is nibbling a lettuce and air sandwich ..the older one munches down
A massive Cornish pasty .  The other two share couscous like some kind
Of shamanic ritual .  Hollywood ..Hollywood ..one laughs …
That’s where I’m bound.  Her voice is like a fork being put back in a drawer
The wrong drawer.  Charming is as charming does the older one mutters ,
Bits of pasty clinging to her leotard.
They all cross and uncross legs like a disease and flick their hair
And smile as if we are mental patients ..to be tolerated as an interlude
In their incredible journey lives.
They will not remember us within the hour .
The spotlight shines from their unforgiving eyes.
A tree falls in the room .
A dead body is lugged in and left to bleed.
They step over both .  Kick their legs up high .
Head for the beckoning stage.

BIO:

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories , plays, comedy sketches and does painting and visual art. She has a new collection called “Today the Birds Will Sing ” coming out with Valley Press in the next couple of months.

Her work has been widely published and anthologised.  She has won a number of competitions such as Manchester International, Norwich, Suffolk, the Yorkshire prize, Southport Comedy, Jersey, Devon & Dorset, Torbay and many others.

Her work has been published and distributed in America by www.origamipoems.com, based on Rhode Island, she has 15 chap books with them, having formerly read at Roots in Providence. She has recently been made an honorary member of Ocean State Poets

 

Poem- A Van Gogh Moment by Helen Burke July 11, 2016

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A Van Gogh Moment

I am having a Van Gogh moment when
all the flowers are leaping out from the soil
and capturing the sun and the rain –
and the blue flowers dance their way out of pain –
Yes, Yes ! ,I am having a Van Gogh moment.
I am in control ,  I tell myself , shout , in dribs and drabs
but the fireplace keeps talking to me and the dancers little hands
(I brought her in from the rain ) through the mirror, they  are laughing .
And the letter I write is a spiders revenge.
I am having a Van Gogh moment.
Surprise, surprise !! sings the café owners dog
and the rippling corn of the green sea beckons me,
and the stars in my eyes whirl like oysters and
the clams Gaugin has brought us for tea
are repeating their alphabet by twos and by threes.
I am having a Van Gogh moment.

 

BIO:

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for 42 years she also writes short stories , plays, comedy sketches and does painting and visual art. She has a new collection called “Today the Birds Will Sing ” coming out with Valley Press in the next couple of months.

Her work has been widely published and anthologised.  She has won a number of competitions such as Manchester International, Norwich, Suffolk, the Yorkshire prize, Southport Comedy, Jersey, Devon & Dorset, Torbay and many others.

Her work has been published and distributed in America by www.origamipoems.com, based on Rhode Island, she has 15 chap books with them, having formerly read at Roots in Providence. She has recently been made an honorary member of Ocean State Poets

 

 

..And God Created New York – Poem and Painting by Helen Burke January 8, 2015

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Whitby713

…And God Created New York

 And God created New York , because it was a Wednesday
And ..just because he could.
And at first , when he saw what he had done , he smiled.
And God said ..I will put all the haves at one end and they
Will be miserable as sin itself … and in the gutter I will put|
The have nots and they will know the truth about happiness.
And some will be truly fine , and smile ..but others may want more.
And for them I will put a wheel called kharma in a dustbin
And some will find it , and some wont .
And this I will call the wheel of Destiny and it will amuse me
At the weekends to tinker with its tiny heart.
And move it from bin to bin .
(Things have been slow since the Israelites came home)
.And so – some still went window shopping for what they could
Not have , down women’s blouses and up skirts.
While others saw the light and made a choice straightaway
Of good women and lean meat ( or vice- versa)
And on the fifth day when God saw , truly saw with his new
Glasses back from the menders, just what he had done
He said …….. Oh Shit ……. My My ,and oh oh , what a pickle.
But it was too damn late now.
And try though he might to rectify ………….
All he did was further create Los Angeles , Las Vegas
And some dodgy real estate in California.
The karmic wheel of Destiny was sprung .
Since then , as you can imagine ..God keeps a lowish profile
On a Wednesday.
Just stays home plays poker with the Prophets
And parts the odd Red Sea
(For which the Haves , the Have nots , the Would like to Haves
And even the Used to Haves but cant be arsed now ..
Are glad in equal measure .)
Roll on the weekend don’t you think ??????

BIO  

UK poet Helen Burke has written poetry for the last 35 years. Her work is widely anthologised and has won many national prizes, including the Manchester, the Suffolk and the Devon and Dorset prize.  You can read more of her work here.

On Hot Days and The Leopards of Peace by Helen Burke June 15, 2013

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Whitby260

Drawing by Helen Burke

On Hot Days

On hot days , I play Jefferson Airplane
Or a little David Bowie – the day seems to demand it .
When the grass smokes and the pavements burn
And my arms hold themselves out to the sun .
Grace Slick’s voice and Ziggy in the sunshine will make
The day a good one , even hotter.
When the clouds gather – I turn to Fleetwood Mac , have to –
What other choice is there ??
And on rainy days it’s Al Stewart – Year of the Cat.
And soft Irish rainy days – American Pie and Don McLean.
I use them as umbrella’s , as sturdy boots and hat. So the day
Is not a wash-out , and I whistle down the wind.
On windy days – into the room comes Joni Mitchell and she and I
Are blown away down to the Mermaid Café.
And on changeable days , days that can’t make up their mind –
I go for Vashti Bunyan .  Works every time
When there’s thunder in my shoes and lightening strikes –
I dig out Bob Dylan and revisit old Highways.
You put Mott the Hoople on when you come in .
There’s a storm predicted in the East , you say –
And I want to be prepared .  But.
It turns out to be hot , so we have to think again.
The Man who Fell to Earth  ? or White Rabbit , I ask.
And the sun melts the windows, the music , everything .
I am trapped inside black vinyl .
And it’s hot.  Hot.  Hot.

The Leopards of Peace

So, we’re at this Pete Seeger concert ,
Right ??
That’s jan and kevin and lynnie and phil and me –
And what we are all doing , I cannot say –
Except that there are leopards .
Many leopards , big ones , small ones , shy ones ,
Chatty ones – all walking round the market place.
And available.
We are the leopards of peace , they say .
Will no-one take us home with them .
And we try.  Phil and I try – but the bag we have brought
Is kinda loose – and the leopards heads poke out – so
Things are rather tricky .  Phil and I ask the leopards what they
Want to do.
You must be your own leopards they say – and jan and the gang
Scoop up several of the really unusual leopards – and say
Don’t worry – we will take you a leopard back with us.
And a big Irish leopard – singing Danny Boy !! – leaps into
Their suitcase – and several small portable leopards join him.
Phil and I have one small leopard that we can carry between us –
And we do .  And this is how peace breaks out – between people,
Between nations , between dreams and moments you think are life
But are also dreams .  This is how peace is carried home in the heart.
Like a small leopard – until its time is come to walk the earth.
The whole of the earth .
Give the leopards a chance.   I wish you Peace.

BIO  

UK poet Helen Burke has written poetry for the last 35 years. Her work is widely anthologised and has won many national prizes, including the Manchester, the Suffolk and the Devon and Dorset prize.  You can read more of her work here.

Three Poems by Helen Burke January 24, 2012

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 8 o’ clock in Britain

It’s always 8 o’  clock in Britain.
No matter how you try and avoid it – it looms.
Like Groundhog Day.
It’s always too late to go anywhere, DO anything.

(Friend – its too late not to do it, go there.)

In Barcelona, Paris, Rome they’ll be promenading.
We walk round Huddersfield, Halifax , Hades and Hull –
We get the train to Doncatraz, across to York,
Then down to Epping, Reading, Rhyl –
It’s 8 o’ clock and the country has closed.
May as well be Knocking on Heavens Door
(ever feel you’ve been here before ?)
Its 8 o’ clock and growing late –
It’s later than you think – mate.

Everywhere  the same story.
Lights on in one kebab shop –
Served by a yellow eyed dog called Delaney
The owner asleep in the Back of the Shop.
Everyone’s on drugs.  That Drug –
The “Sod you. We’re Closed.  Closed and you can piss off, pal” drug.  The “Bog off abroad, if you’re that bloody bothered.  We don’t do promenades round here”  mainline stuff.

Nah – we do – the Racing Times and Nuts blowing round the city centre.
We do 4 lads in hoodies that look older than me dad
Eating chips.  And 2 lasses – pretending to be coquettish but really
Only after’t chips.
Its 8 o clock and Britain has switched off, is in shutdown, meltdown, crackdown
Backdown, blowndown, growndown, thistledown, eiderdown, walkaround
Pissed town.
It’s 8 o clock and get yourself  indoors – because
We don’t do promenades round here – if you want that sort of crap
Piss off abroad.  That’s more your thing – (you look the type)
I’ts 8 o’ clock and we’ve got glass slippers on our feet.
It’s 8 o’ clock in Britain – and growing late.

Ain’t that right.
Its later than you think, mate.

Bob Dylan’s Toe-Nail

It all began like this.
I’ve got Bob Dylan’s toe-nail
and I’m doing fine.
There ain’t no need to toe the line.  No sir.
You, you’ve got Madonna’s thumbprint on a slice of bread and jam, left over from when she had tea with your mam.
It were grand , we had butties of Branston and ham –
is’nt it nice to know somebody famous.
That’s how it all started,
how it began.
I’ve got Bob Dylan’s toe-nail.

Do you remember we were down at Georges baths
and Sting lost his verucca that day – and you, you
scooped it up and had it clingfilmed and catalogued straightaway.
I was proud of you – no, really I was.
I see nothing wrong in what we do –
Robbie Williams will never miss that “fuck you” tattoo.
What’s all the fuss about ?? I just don’t see –
Cliff Richards face when we set his tennis balls free.
You’d have thought being a Christian, he wouldn’t mind –
but in this world, they insist you toe the line.
But, us, we don’t care – we’ve got Bob Dylans toe-nail.
And we’re doing fine.

We’ve got quite a collection now, you’re welcome to browse.
In the case in the hall – there’s Eltons first wig,
there’s a photo of you and Keith Richard’s sharing a cig,
there’s a Shirley Bassey sequinned bra, hasn’t been worn in years, there’s a piece of naval fluff from Britney Spears,
there’s a high note from the Bee Gees and one of Gazza’s tears.
There’s Bjork’s goose egg and Cilla Blacks first nose –But none of this compares a jot – because we’ve got
Bob Dylan’s left toenail phalange calcium addendum,
And that beats the lot.
(Sometimes – I think, I hear it –  singing to me.)

It’s not so bad in here, once you get used to the food,
and our lawyer – he reckons, to be fair ,
we didn’t need to have brought the gun – well, as
he says – Heather Mills was hardly likely to run –
but Mr. Cartwright, he reckons we’ll be out in the year –
we’ve got an appeal going on and then they’ll do a piece on me and barry in Hallo

Isn’t it amazing – how far you can go, JUST by being dedicated and once you realize you don’t have to toe the line.
It makes me feel special, it makes me feel high –
just think – THAT was on his foot, when he wrote – Mr. Tambourine Man.
I am the owner of  Bob Dylan’s toe-nail.

Baxter’s Crime 

Baxter, the dog , is being dragged down the lane.
Again.
I feel sorry for Baxter, in fact, most days –
I feel a bit like him.
Pulled this way and that.
Someone behind me with a lead that I can’t see.
Baxter has no idea what his crime is.
(Nor have I ).
Just that he is a dog who takes his time perhaps.
He investigates.  Sniffs too long in all the wrong places.
I can never hear the words – just that she is shouting.
Snapping and Snarling.
I imagine the teeth are bared – the hackles grissly and raised.
But Baxter I feel is undeterred.
He will go on being Baxter.
He will go on, going on.

There is no cure for being free of mind and will.
Baxter, my friend , my alter ego.
Baxter – I love you.
Go on – being, Baxter.

(Run amok – remain a dog with pluck.)

You bark at your side of the wall.
And I will bark – at  mine.

BIO  

Helen Burke has been writing poetry for the last 35 years. Her work is widely anthologised and has won many national prizes, including the Manchester, the Suffolk and the Devon and Dorset prize.  Her latest collection “The Ruby Slippers” by Valley Press ,was launched in London earlier this year .  She is currently writing and illustrating her own children’s book.  She will give a reading at the American Library in Paris this March.