The HyperTexts

Robin Helweg-Larsen

Robin Helweg-Larsen is a British-born, Bahamian-raised Canadian businessman who, after 25 years in Chapel Hill, NC, is back in his home town of Governor's Harbour on Eleuthera. His poetry has been published in Ambit, The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, LIGHT, Lighten Up Online, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, The Rotary Dial, Snakeskin, Unsplendid, Visions International, and elsewhere. He is also the author of a novel, The Gospel According to the Romans―a non-believer's view, available from Amazon.



Hail Deth

Hail Deth, that from alle Natur's birth
Hast kept each living thing thy thrall!
Teech me to love thy quiet call,
To rest
Among the blest,
To be at peace with every thing on earth.

Come soft, without impediment;
Let mee slide sleeping to thy armes,
Discover alle thy soothing charmes;
And kill
My every ill,
Leave mee uninterrupted sediment.

Robin explains: This is one of my very earliest poems, with the form, theme and erratic spelling all obviously influenced by studying the Metaphysical Poets in school. I've always been fascinated by death--at least since the time I gave up Christianity, thanks to my excellent Church of England schooling. The poem was written tongue-in-cheek, of course: I'm in no hurry to die.

When we asked Robin how old he was when he wrote the poem, he replied: I was 20. It was the summer my father had died while I was living overseas. Unexpected and shattering. I've lost almost all the stuff I wrote earlier than that, but I'll put up 'So Listen Now' tomorrow, which I wrote at 17.



So Listen Now

     So listen now to what the prophet saith,
          He teaches anything, he gladly learns,
             He follows scientists and what they say,
             And now, Philosophy of DNA.
           Regard the spiral of it as it turns,
      And listen now to what the prophet saith:
  The two as one, entwining intercourse,
Then separate from toes to very head,
And, separated, seek another bed,
  Their separation procreation’s cause.
      So listen now to what the prophet saith—
           And this the canniballed male spider learns,
                Eaten by her, as her he’d try to lay,
                Who procreates in separation’s day—
           No spark of love or life or hate there burns,
      But, listen now to what the prophet saith,
      Only a life of procreating death.

Another of my early poems: I wrote this when I was 17, in my last year at school. DNA was still a newish concept to the general public, and it appealed to my nihilistic teenage state of mind. My opinions decades later are still pretty similar, though my attitudes are much more relaxed and happy. I had been thoroughly immersed in iambic pentameter by then, studying several of the Canterbury Tales, several of Shakespeare's plays, and a whole slew (or slough) of poets from Donne and Milton to Cummings and Frost. Learn enough poetry by heart, and you become very comfortable writing in the forms you know. I developed the rhyme scheme to allow the indentation-by-rhyme to reflect as best I could the spiral of the subject: ABCCBADEEDABCCBAA, the rhymes winding back and forth across the much-repeated central line, ending with a couplet to round it out at 17 lines. The poem was originally published in Metverse Muse, an Indian periodical that champions traditional verse.




UNEXPLAINED

I’ve only once in my six decades—
Years spent in many lands and islands—
Had a crow fly to and caw at me…
It flew ahead and cawed from a second tree…
Then flew ahead to a fence post,
Cawed a third time as we came close.
Then flew away. This in the driveway
Of a well-treed hotel outside Nairobi.
Kenyans have no tradition of the crow
As messenger of death… but we sure do.
We checked the time: 1:05 pm.
As it turns out, that was the moment when
In the night in British Columbia
My favourite in-law, my children’s grandmother,
Died.



MY THUNDER-GALLOPING UNCONSCIOUS MIND

My thunder-galloping unconscious mind—
On which I, jolly joking jockey, perch
And whose divine intentions I besmirch
With claims its selfishnesses I’ve divined—
This powerhouse, this generator blind,
With pattern-seeking data-crunch research,
Unschooled, ungoverned, then will trip and lurch
Drunk as a soul must be in a mad mind.
But loved and honoured it’s a thundering horse
That powers all the body’s work and health
And flushes poisons in its daily course
And monitors all dangers in its stealth
And feeds uplifting feelings, love and right…
And gifts these images to me at night.

Originally published in Snakeskin



BATHTUB

She opened her legs in the bathtub and I ducked my head under
Becoming a small figure with mask and snorkel
Swimming through seas and into her caves,
Becoming smaller the further I went
Until I was only a small tadpole-like creature
With a long tail, swimming forward,
Searching blindly, searching forward,
And this was all the meaning there was in all the Universe.

Originally published in Snakeskin



Sly Reality

Sometimes a parent, dying far away,
says goodbye in a dream; or a child in harm
causes the distant mother sharp alarm;
or a crow caws of death, sensing decay.
Tots babble of imaginary friends—
and some prove real, strangers to all concerned,
long dead. But the experience is spurned,
and soon the child forgets, the memory ends.

No alternate world, Narnia, Looking Glass;
these are events, though rare, we all have had
if honest with ourselves. Not good or bad,
entanglement hints who’s in your karass—
doing God’s unknown work, Vonnegut reckons.
Some sly reality peeks through and beckons...

Originally published in Bewildering Stories



Lizard an Mosquito

Mosquito bite yuman,
Now e full a blood.
Lizard eat mosquito
Say, man dis is good.

Lizard help hatch mosquito,
Raise dem up good.
Send dem out like good daddy
Fe go find yuman blood.

Mosquito so happy
Dem eat plenty blood.
Lizard so happy
Dem mosquito taste good.

Politician same like dis:
Yu clap an yu sing,
Yu eleck im an den
E tax yu ting an ting.



Beach

Here on the vast beach, you, my hundred friends,
Can see how sea stretched tight round curved earth bends,
How empty sun-filled sky fills timeless Time.
My arms stretch out, but you can't see how I'm
Trapped, caged, confined, boxed in, in love, alone.
Come, sun, burn beach and skin, bleach hair and bone,
Flay life to its essentials: love alone.



The Walls of Planet Three

On this wild planet, in its seas and sand,
forests and ice, lie ruins of perverse
attempts to overrun the universe:
the crumbling walls of failed human command—
Hadrian's, China's, Texas, Jerusalem…
fallen, decayed, functionless, desolate,
with scribbled mentions of their fears and hate:
Rivera... Pyramus... Pink Floyd... Berlin...
their stones—cut, mined and blasted—left land bare,
leave plants still struggling over gouge and groove.
Planet-fall's made, but no one dares remove
their helmet in this dangerous atmosphere.
Infections lurk in water, air and ground—
walls' poisoned Keep Out signs hang all around.

Originally published in Bewildering Stories



History as Irony

Into the land for which the Jews
a thousand years before
had killed and burned to take,
Jesus was born.

In towns controlled by Rome—
grafting their multicultural odd gods
onto Rome-cleansed, Rome-straightened cities—
Jesus played.

Walking four miles from Nazareth
to Sepphoris with Joseph at age ten
to work and help his father build another
Roman Jewish palace,
Jesus toiled.

In the uprisings led by Judas of Galilee
when Joseph and two thousand Jews were killed,
crucified by the Romans, Sepphoris burned,
Jesus escaped.

In hills and deserts outside Rome's control,
studying prophecies and hefting swords,
Jesus preached Israel purged of Rome.

Outside the shining city on the hill,
the Passover uprising crushed by Rome,
flanked by two Zealots, heads of the revolt,
Jesus, King of Jews, was crucified.

Preventing further fundamentalists
leading attacks against High Priest and Rome,
Saul hunted Jesus' Messianic dregs.

Seeing an opportune new power base,
mixing old Jewish myths in a fresh blend
with Mithras, Isis—a One God for all—
Saul/Paul created Christ as a new God.

Both fundamentalist and Paulist Jews
denying the Emperor's divinity—
disrupting commerce, peace and government—
Nero burned Jewish Christians, and
Titus destroyed the Jewish Temple, and
Hadrian deported all the Jews
from Palestine, scattering Christians and Jews
throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

Jews kept their heads down. Christians evangelized,
spread through the powerless—slaves, women, poor,
criminals and the lowest army ranks.

Seeing an opportune new power base,
Constantine changed Rome's faith.

Controlling now (in part) the Emperor,
Popes ruled the West from Rome, built palaces,
and persecuted Jews.

(Jesus gives no opinion, being dead.)

Originally published in Ambit



Marty Ravellette

The man with no arms sat on the stool in the diner;
He was shoeless: How else could he drink his coffee,
Eat his scrambled eggs?

The man with no arms parked his truck and got out barefoot.
He fired up his chainsaw; he had a landscaping business.
With the log out of the way, he could cut the grass,
Push the lawnmower around with his chest.

The man with no arms saw the woman in the burning van,
Barefoot, he kicked in the window, so his wife
Could reach in and unlock the door, help the woman escape.

Somewhere Kipling's Creator of All Things must have told him "Play
Play at being who you are," and he played.

Somewhere Lear's Aunt Jobiska must have told him "This is the best."
And he lived, happy with who he was, glad for no arms
Because no arms made him who he was, and he liked who he was.

Nor was the man with no arms alone.
The boy with no hands sat in the laundromat, knitting.
He had metal pincers. His mother was washing the clothes.
The girl with two heads, or rather the twins with only one body,
They live, argue, love, share.
And the men with no legs have a chance to run faster than all,
Will require a new type of Olympics.
And the child born to die—does that disturb you, "the child born to die"?
The child born to die is me and is you, is all humans, all life,
All planets, stars, galaxies, all.
Listen to Lear's Aunt Jobiska: "This is the best."
Listen to Kipling's Creator of All Things, and play.

Originally published in Snakeskin



Out Island Town in the Early Morning

Before the sun is up, the people are.
Fishermen have gone out, for noon's fierce light
Will punish them, and their desires are slight:
To sell their catch, drink cold beer by a bar.
The workers hitch rides with some early car
That will go fairly near their building site.
Women prep kids' meals, feeling it's not right
To have to leave to clean some tourist spa.

Only the unemployed and office staff
Still sleep while roosters crow and seagulls laugh,
And the light rising in its eastern glow
Shows Harbour houses in a double row,
One on the Cay, the other upside down
Painted on windless glass, a mirror town.



Good Enough for Me

The wide world has its glories
In a rich complexity
But sitting watching the sun set
Is good enough for me.

Canada has six time zones
From sea to sea to sea
But one tide lapping where I sit
Is good enough for me.

The muezzins in the Saudi mosques
Wake all to pray and pee
But a rooster crowing in the bush
Is good enough for me.

And Singapore is lush and green
And managed prettily
But scrub grass and a sandy beach
Are good enough for me.
All—good enough for me.



Auntie's Model Niece

Auntie got her
Maid to knit a
Set of under-
            Wear,

For my frozen
Sister Flo's end
That was posing
            Bare;

Flo then wore 'em
With decorum
And she swore 'em
            Grand,

Undismayed by
Undies made by
Auntie's maid by
            Hand!



Monomiscommunication

To be true to myself and quite clear
I whispered into my own ear;
I nodded, replied;
But, suspecting I lied,
I'm pretending I just didn't hear.

Originally published by LIGHT



Religions

Judaism
Genocide in Canaan
Gave God's land to the Jews;
But genocides in other lands
Are Yahweh's big taboos.

Buddhism
All life is suffering,
Yes, all our life is pain;
Then I must be a masochist—
I'd love to live again.

Norse religion
The first gods killed a giant,
From his skull to make
The sky, and mountains from his bones—
What lies! No talking snake?!

Christianity
Jesus wasn't Jewish
And his killers weren't from Caesar;
At least, so Paul said after
An epileptic seizure.

Islam
There is no God but One,
Perfect in every way;
All creatures do His unknown will—
So there's no need to pray.

Mormonism
To teenage Joseph Smith
An angel showed gold plates
On which he read 'Jesus Was Here'—
It got him lots of dates.

Modern Paganism
Pretentious modern pagans
Confused by mystic spoof
Have got no clue how Stonehenge looked
With Newgrange walls and roof.              

Atheism
I don't see gods on clouds,
I don't hear angels sing;
There's just one question bothers me—
How come there's anything?

Originally published by Snakeskin



Four God Limericks

God made Heaven, earth, plants, people, fleas
In six days, and then rested at ease;
Then He thought: "In those stones
"I'll hide dinosaur bones!!"
(He was always a bit of a tease.)

God looked out a Heavenly portal
And what He saw made Him just chortle:
Some dude, on a cross,
Claiming he was the Boss!
For his hubris, God made him immortal.

God, blessed with what one must call humour,
Decided to start up a rumour
That Himself as a dove
Came to Mary with love
And begat an Immaculate Tumour.

God saw how Religion had deadened
And said to His host, "Armageddon'd
"Look good on this lot"
For His plans were all shot
And His angels teased Him till He reddened.

Originally published by Ambit



A Viking Sails South

Tired of 'Greenland' and its icy coast,
a band of us sailed south to Leif's old place,
discussed old legends (drinking many a toast)
of Norman settlements in Spain and Thrace.
So why not us as well? Let the old stay
in frost-filled farms, friendly, familiar.
Go south! Long nights to lengthening days give way
until it seems like Equinox all year.
Bring our old gods, have garlands round them hung —
wind in soft pines like loneliness of girls —
where just to taste the water makes you young —
pink conch shells on pink sand yield up pink pearls —
we saw Njord, sea god, sleeping from our railings.
Brown women smile. Our children will be skraelings.

Originally published by Snakeskin



Hurricane Irma

With islands as appetisers before the main course
Irma prepares to swallow Florida whole
With a sword-swallower's brash control,
The fellatrix without remorse.

The circular saw of Irma prepares to slice the length of Florida...
But trim the east coast? Trim the west? Or just go forth
And cut a clean line up the center, south to north,
Right through the Magic Kingdom like some sarcastic orator?

And here comes Hurricane Jose,
Pursuing Irma like a barracuda,
A dog lifting a leg on poor Barbuda
To piss where the bigger dog pissed yesterday.

Meanwhile off Africa there forms a new farrago
As God prepares another bowling ball along the hurricane alley…
Can He slide one between Cuba and the Bahamas with this sally
And curve it in to take out Mar a Lago?



Barefoot

After your city feet in socks and shoes,
After your crowded evening with its booze,
Your air is tainted with your body's sweat,
Unclean and laden with a vague regret.
But we are free
Who live beside the sea,
Can choose what our life spurns or craves.
Surely we reach
Purity on a beach,
Daily dallying barefoot in the waves.

Originally published by The Orchards Poetry Journal



Cinderella

Every youngest daughter's
Always Cinderella:
Never at the party,
Always in the cellar;

Tired of washing dishes,
Tired of sweeping dirt;
Wants to be a lady,
A scientist, a flirt;

Wants to travel world-wide,
Read till reading's done;
Wants to be a mother,
Playing in the sun;

Wants to be the princess,
Beauty of the Ball—
Fairy tales happen—
Watch, she'll have it all!

Originally published by Lighten Up Online



TO MYSELF, IN 50 YEARS TIME

Old fool! You really think yourself the same
As I who write to you, aged 22?
Ha!  All we've got in common is my name:
I'll wear it out, throw it away,
You'll pick it up some other day....
But who are you?

My life's before me; can you say the same?
I choose its how and why and when and who.
I'll choose the rules by which we play the game;
I may choose wrong, it's not denied,
But by my choice you must abide....
What choice have you?

If, bored, I think one day to see the world
I pack that day and fly out on the next.
My choice to wander, or to sit home-curled;
Each place has friends, good fun, good food,
But you sit toothless, silent, rude....
And undersexed!

Cares and regrets of loss can go to hell:
You sort them out with Reason's time-worn tool.
Today's superb; tomorrow looks as well:
The word "tomorrow" is a thrill,
I'll make of mine just what I will....
What's yours, old fool?

Originally published by Snakeskin



Camelot at Dusk

From under low clouds spreading from the south
The red sun drops slow to night's waiting mouth.
Rush lamps are lit; the guards changed on the walls;
Supper will not be served in the Great Halls
With Arthur still away. Each in their room,
The members of the Court leave books or loom
To say their Vespers in the encroaching gloom.

Lancelot, up in his tower,
Sees the sunset storm clouds glower,
Feels his blood's full tidal power,
            Knows he has to go.
In her bower, Gwenivere
Puts a ruby to her ear,
Brushes firelight through her hair,
            Feels her heartbeat grow.

Guard, guard, watch well:
            For the daylight thickens
            And the low cloud blackens
            And the hot heart quickens
To rebel.

From his tower, caring not
For consequences, Lancelot
Crosses courts of Camelot,
            Pitying his King.
In her bower, Gwenivere
Feels his presence coming near,
Waits for footfalls on the stair,
            Lets her will take wing.

Guard, guard, watch well:
            If attention slackens
            When the deep bond beckons,
            Evil knows Pendragon's
In its spell.

And as the storm clouds, rubbing out the stars,
Deafened the castle and carved lightning scars,
Drenched Arthur rode for flash-lit Camelot
Where he, by Queen and Knight, was all forgot.



Eva Aged 14

            Some of the girls I know
            Go to the University
            Sit so pretty
            Prissy
            Kiss-kiss and cissy
            With beautiful boys that they know
            Friends to drink tea with
            Chat with and be with
            Feather-headed into the feather-bedded night.

Oh no sweet Jesus hear me I scream
Such a life of show
Is beyond what I dream
Give me a man who I'll never know
A man without feelings, without wrong or right
Without obligations
Except for the money
Let him be cold and hard as the money
And the money as dirty and evil as me
I can't trust feelings, I never trust feelings
And I don't care
That I can't care....
I don't dare.

            Some of the girls that I've seen
            Listen to that classy music, they sit
            And play piano while they drink their tea.
            That's somewhere I've never been.
            Cello!  Piano!!  What SHIT!

Sweet JESus CATCH me beFORE i SCREAM
give me ROCK,  ROCK, give me ROCK oh give me ROCK
ROCK, give me ROCK, give me ROCK
blast my MIND  let me DROWN  give me SO much of ALL
that my HEAD and my BODy are FINally SOUND
give me ROCK,  ROCK, give me ROCK,  ROCK
give me ROCK rock ROCK rock ROCK,  ROCK
DROWN me  DROWN me, LET me go DOWN
aWAY
                        aWAY
                                                aWAY

            Some of the kids from my school
            Would sit down to a smoke, have a toke and cool down
            Drift round the town feeling cool
                        Not me

            Some of the students I've seen
            Trip out on acid, they want to expand
            They want to feel all that they can, and still more
                        Not me

Give me JUNK
Give me the rush and the bliss of fuck all
Give me the unsatisfaction of life
Give me the treadmill toward the next fix
The stealing or whoring, the need, the despair
Of being whipped up an unending stair
A problem of Now I can just about handle
The safety in knowing tomorrow's the same
And the whole problem thank god unthinkable
Only the treadmill toward the next fix
The fix of nothingness, of peaceful nothing
And let me not think
    LET me not THINK
Sweet JESus if i THINK even ONCE
i'll SCREAM i'll SCREAM i'll SCREAM
                        i'll DIE.

The HyperTexts