on change and perspective

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Pine tree | photo by Elizabeth Helmich

Gone are the fireflies and late evening sun,
gone are lacy leaves quivering goodbye,
gone are jigs at noon, midnight skinny-dips,
gone are the things I wanted to say
last season, but quit.

Here, sparrows trill from silent rooftops,
nests harboring seeds of future songs.
Here, there’s time for cat naps and the silk
of poetry pulled slowly from husks.
Here, those words you’ve kept hidden
are now full grown.

Gone are small, hushed voices, driven with fear.
Here you’ll find me, loud and clear,
waltzing on a moonlit night, face
upturned, for light’s best seen
when dark’s no longer heard.

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

A ninja closes in on
the victim’s aproned hips
sashaying in time to James
Brown, sheathing dual
swords precisely when
that high note hits
to steal a hug
from mom.

In response to this prompt from Samantha Lazar, for Chalkboard:

On childhood

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My mini-muse — Beaver Lake, NC. Photo by Elizabeth Helmich

When your body was preformed
and unborn in your microscopic sac,
was there a gene to dictate how you’d
scale the walls of your crib too soon,
because even as a baby
you had FOMO?

Or one that granted the ability
to translate “No!” into “Yes!”
as pumpkins of kings
and paupers alike
landed at your feet?

I can’t say for certain,
but every firing neuron believes
in one that gifted a cat’s curiosity
along with nine lives, and a dog’s
confidence to leap castle walls,
lick the prince

and have him offer the throne
based solely on how your eyes
reel in the moon to hover above
the treetops and gently scold
the silver river

not to ripple too much,
please, because we need to see
how the autumn leaves
paint by number.

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Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

When we’d said goodbye,
you mistakenly thought it meant
I was leaving. You’d always underestimated
my level of commitment
until I ghosted you.

You didn’t count on the way
I’d wake you early each morning,
stomping downstairs to unpack our baggage
in the cellar of your lower legs and drag out
those black & white archives;

selfies that made you tingle
before you got up to pee. Settling into
your stomach, I’d blast music you hated
and have a dance party, kicking up pangs
of regret each time you remembered
how I licked my lips before I ate.

You’d clipped my wings, but now I flew
freely through your ribcage, a bat hunting
bugs of why we’d never work out, and I’m
not bitter like leaves that turn from red
to stomped-on black, oh…

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Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

We fell through each colorful word of autumn,
smeared unfinished oils everywhere,

blotted acrylics that dried too quickly, scrubbed
off charcoal for days, until the hard edges of our letters

that tried too hard softened, and we blurred
into permanently rearranged watercolors.

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Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Do you remember how perfect
the orchard was, that day,
when an amber sun was day drunk,
sloppy-kissing treetops as we walked
beneath a Norman Rockwell scene.

The cherry-red wagon was either
too heavy with a burden of giggles
or too many bushels, both
threatening to topple.
How many lives have been lived

since then, when the innocence
of sticky fingers fought over
the last apple cider donut before
being swiped onto dirt-stained jeans
that’d fallen in the corn maze three times.

Best friends for an hour jammed
on tire swings with snot noses
and back to school colds while parents
watched and forgot what existed
outside the border of farm magic.

Pumpkins are purchased after
negotiating not to buy the largest
and we stockpile into the car,
clueless to what wonders
were left behind, that day.

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Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

I wish I could tell you
I was listening to those words
about your flaws but I was too busy
watching your upper lip
lift a little to the right
while you spoke
and how

when you forgot
something you looked up
to the right and blushed
like a flower who’s lost
its petals
and what

you don’t know
is that I collect perceived flaws
in my personal View-Master
and click that little orange
lever to watch my favorite
scenes of you
on repeat

when you’re asleep
and I still can’t get enough.

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Ash pile — photo by Elizabeth Helmich

We give in. Become
the soft crumble of prediction
that quits rushing to count stones
piled continuously to fill craters
of excuses.

Fire catches a toehold
of shadowy selves between circles
we dance, billowing so lightly
we don’t pause to gaze
at those holding the tinder.

In the ring of a pit we didn’t choose,
knowing it’ll only take one twig
offers no consolation
for what’s already ash.

It’s nearly Autumn again in the U.S. This time of year throws me into an introspective state as weather shifts and we make a shift inwards, both figuratively and literally for several months.

This year, I’m all about softening. About not fighting changes that just keep coming. About becoming the ash and believing that sometimes, what we think is an ending is simply a new version, beginning.

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South Toe River, Burnsville, NC — Photo by Elizabeth Helmich

It was long after daybreak but still early enough to worry, just a little, about the black bears and hope they’d finished their morning rounds. I was, after all, walking along their regular path between the rhododendrons to find the perfect spot to cast my line in.

The river was frigid and wild as a mountain river should be. I’d missed the constant tug on the rod that’s easy to mistake for a fish. …

for suicide awareness month

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Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

The poem below was written to create awareness for those who may not understand the helplessness you experience while suicidal thoughts and feelings pervade your mind and just how crippling it is.

I was 14 when I tried to kill myself by downing an entire bottle of prescription pills. Back then my troubles were few, but with being a highly sensitive person and an empath and not yet having the tools to navigate it, the world felt like too much.

“Why don’t you just pull yourself together and get over it?”

Anyone who’s struggled with mental illness over their lifetime has likely heard this or something similar expressed, usually in exasperation, often in a quick, abrupt, or even rude tone by someone they know and love. …


Elizabeth Helmich

Holes and a series of rabbits — my debut poetry collection — now available! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089RRRGXX/

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