New Year’s Face


Image credit: frankkie’s/

What shall it be
Your new year’s face?
Wipe away the past
Without a trace
Let yourself rise
A brand new you
Defined by what
You say and do
The past is gone
So don’t look back
The mirror lies
Takes you off track
What shall you be
This bright new day
And what dissolves
And flows away?

Will you now smile
A new year grin
A brighter path
To now begin?
The mirror shows
What you expect
But show yourself
Some more respect
And take the reins
Of perfect choice
How shall it sound
Your new year’s voice?

(c). Helen Valentina 2020

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Review: Joan Smokes By Angela Meyer

I’m already a fan of Angela Meyer – I think I always will be. She has such a fine eye for life and detail and a sense of emotion that is both luxurious and visceral, and in her novel ‘A Superior Spectre’ she mixed the speculative with the acutely human in a way that was both heartbreaking and enlightening.

With ‘Joan Smokes’ – her latest novella – she takes that viewpoint to a different, and possibly higher level. Here she does not investigate the possibility of a future world but excavates the universal, eternal landscape of the human heart. This story is tragic, dark, real – you walk with Joan as she navigates grief and memory and slowly the truth of her loss is revealed so that by the end of the journey you feel gut-punched with empathy.

Angela’s prose is spare but beautiful – rather like poetry  – there is a melody or a lyricism underneath it all – and you are transported through the story with a similar urgency to a dramatic song. I’m not sure how she does it – draws you in but also keeps you one step removed, just as Joan herself both views and lives in her life at the same time – till she is haunted by the very memories she flees but observes dispassionately.

Perhaps Joan would agree with Robert Frost – ‘the best way out is always through’. I was struck about midway through the story by how she observes life with such a keen awareness. Joan’s tragedy is that she sees things for what they are – whether it is the dissolution of her great love and her family in the past – or the gaudy, ritualised world she inhabits to escape it.  She has nowhere to hide from her own eye, her own mind. There is no true opiate in the world for that.

Just like the nuclear tests she observes, the power of destruction is exhilarating and dangerous. You sense she knows this well – her past was similarly explosive and seductive. But what is the price of such power, such sensation? How much of yourself do you give up to be with another, and what if it is never enough? And what if you know that, what if you see it all?

Joan seeks to understand but may be better off if she wasn’t so good at that.  It makes me think the author might be similarly blessed and cursed. Perhaps all great writers carry that duality and their gift is to make us see the truth through their narratives.  Whatever the motive or the means, I ached for Joan through this story and while her tale bears no relationship or resemblance to my life at all, I felt I knew it even so. That’s a testament to Angela’s writing and the universality of pain and loss.

I heartily recommend this novella to any reader -but particularly to those seeking a real and raw experience of what it is to be human, and to love.


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Image credit: frankie’s/

I saw the leaves departing
On the bitter winter wind
And in their flight my soul
Recognised its form
It will not now be long
Until I welcome moving on
The soft, encroaching storm

I saw the colours fading
Before they fell and flew around
The park that afternoon till I
Recognised the call
I will not fight at all
It’s natural like the seasons fall
It happens to us all

The tree outlasts the time
We wander on this little earth
From day to day
And from our birth our form
Can hear the subtle siren song
We know it won’t be long
Till we vanish in the storm

(c ) Helen Valentina 2019

Posted in Air, Earth, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Not Quite A Mirror


Image Credit: Angelina Egorova/

Each not quite a mirror
To the other
See them stand
Beautiful and half pre-planned
Half chaos as they see
A stronger mimicry
Not quite a mirror but close enough
If either calls the other’s bluff
I wonder what we’ll see?

The artifice separates
One from the other
And as they dance
You’ll see they’ve left not a thing to chance
Their perfect symmetry
Precision by degrees
Not quite a mirror but still your heart
For you will not tell them apart
If you can truly see.

(c ) Helen Valentina 2019

Posted in Fire, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Am I Free?


Image Credit: frankie’s/

Am I free?
The thought has not occurred
Before to me
Yet could it be?

My cage is cool
But did I build it
Back in school
A little fool?

Or did I see
At my parents’ side
The litany
What I could be?

Now I am old
Many stories never told
And not by me
But am I free?

Then let me fly
It’s not too late to wing
Too late to be
For I am free.

(c ) Helen Valentina 2019

Posted in Fire, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Stuff of Dying Stars


Image Credit: Vadim Sadovski/

We are the stuff of dying stars
Sprinkled in a hostile and strange firmament
Seeking home
Or the debris of asteroids
Hurtling across time
Carbon molecules
Like miracles rising in the womb
Just one more time

An accident of cosmic birth perhaps we grow
On this little planet
Moving fast and slow
In a realm we can never come to know
But sparkling each our little souls
Just like the stars we watch at night
Our true parentage above
And taking flight
Just one more time

Did ancient gods sprinkle all this form
Across a canvas like an artist
Seeking inspiration in chaos till we were born?
Or were we but an afterthought
Which grabbed greedily this little life
To make it more, the pinnacle
Of everything, a fool that sings
Into the impersonal night
Just one more time?

(c ) Helen Valentina 2019

Posted in Air, Earth, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Hold the Moon


Image credit: Anton27/

I hold the moon precious
In my trembling arms
So close her silvery glow
Lights up my face
The earth trembles
To be so close
To her ancient lover
And if I place her
Gentle on the sand
The world entire
Will understand

The tide creeps in
To touch her grace
Fallen from the sky
Nestled in this place
In a dream I wonder
Where she’ll come to land
It’s something I
Can’t understand

I hold the moon gentle
Not worthy I
Sit silent on the beach
And pray in time
The planets align
And as sentinels stand
To sing this song
We’ll all understand

(c) Helen Valentina 2019

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Scavenging for Time


Image credit: Geraldus Galinaus Kas/

These days I find I’m scavenging for time lost, time gone
And all the children running by don’t realise how soon it passes
In such a rush I see them pace not even realising this time, this space
Is nothing more than shifting sand and when they finally come to land
On who they’ll be and who they won’t
It’s far too late to turn the tide
Make other choices, deep inside
They’ll feel the same as I do now
That time has yet escaped them too, how can anyone dig within the sand
And find one precious moment lost
It’s gone, gone, gone

Aging creeps up on you like a thief on a balmy summer’s night
Pretending just to pass you by but biting in your soul even so
A little bit as you come and go
Rushing to dreams that you’ll never know
And you have no practice at being old
You’re young so long and then its gone
The time has tricked us, every one
Till all the stars have fallen, died, there’s not even one
To wish upon
They’re gone, gone, gone.

(C ) Helen Valentina 2019

Posted in Air, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Night Sky


Image Credit: Triff/

He said there’s much more than meets the eye
In the folds and wonders of the cold night sky
And how the ancients looked above to wonder and scrye

The ancient texts clearly mapped the stars
And planets from Pluto, to Saturn, to Mars
And told of the fates that the gods yet debar

And in these conjunctions and clashes of squares
The strategist keeps all his foes unaware
Where fate says they fall he’ll be meeting them there

And yet all this knowledge could not soothe his soul
He vexed on his future like a magus of old
And left all his story essentially untold

Now at times I look up in the dead of the night
When dying stars fall to my sorrow and delight
And I wonder if there he is free in his flight
If at last he is free in his flight

Helen Valentina (c ) 2019

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I Hear Your Voice


Image Credit: Fernando Cortes/

I hear your voice
My special friend
From beyond the world of men
Your silky black wings
And piercing eyes
And how your soul sings
When together we fly
As we will do
By and by

I love your soul
The clarion call
That swoops and dives above us all
My spirit responds
My heart will soar
We’ll be together
The perfect moment
Not before

I saw you once
Dark across the sky
And not one moment wondered why
We see ourselves
Like mirrors do
A bit of me
A bit of you
And nothing else
Will do

Helen Valentina (c ) 2019

Posted in Air, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments