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Books & Poetry

Poem: Dear Helen

Books & Poetry

This week’s Poet’s Corner contribution is from Jordan White in Adelaide.

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Dear Helen

Grandmother beloved, 1947–2016

I have been trying to write but

ash keeps falling from the

tired autumn sky.

Your cough bursts and then lingers and – is inevitably still.


There’s a war again, another city burning on TV.

Your olive couch is somewhere else now, given

shape by the memories I keep on running back to.


Some days are only lovable from a distance

but I keep promising myself the swooping magpies are just

falling fruit

too ripe for harvest.


If I had to spell it out:

head down on the bus, the bus wrapping itself around corners,

forehead on the glass, tired eyelids, the city –

acutely aware that we’re made only of memories.


It’s spring again

the mornings are bright and wreckless

like open wounds

my thoughts are razor blades

softened by the decades


and Jayde’s spirit,

it’s been dampened by all the men

who will tell her to smile, yet


in my dreams we are kids again –

I’m painting on your loungeroom floor

beside the cold cup of tea


and I swear we’re going to paint the city,

promise we’ll plant a garden in the sky

this time

arrange roses and lilies and

trap butterflies

so they keep on missing



the phone rings and I don’t answer

my head is a riot on the pillow

and you’re so blue

but I wake up and I am living,

missing you


unable to help but wonder:

your last breathe – was it just that or

a sigh of relief?

Jordan White is a fourth-year marketing and journalism student at the University of South Australia. Previously the Comms Editor at the university’s online and print ‘Verse Magazine’ and Chief of Staff at its online student journalism platform ‘On The Record’, his own work has been published in ‘Verse Magazine’, ‘Brain Drip’, ‘Year13’ and ‘Glass’. He is also a Research Assistant at UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.
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