4 poems from Helen Ivory's 'The Breakfast Machine'

The Dolls House

The trees that grow
from the nursery walls
do not rustle in the breeze
of an open window.

The jaws of the wardrobe
do not snap shut
when a crane-fly bumbles
into their waiting smile.

But there is a shifting of furniture
in the dolls house tonight,
a slow dragging of objects
across candle-lit rooms.

The kitchen windows steam up
and the unmistakable smell
of melting plastic
drifts from the chimney.

You will notice tomorrow
your new doll is gone.
You will find her blonde hair
lines a mouse nest in spring.

The Reckless Sleeper

All night he has been inventing a vocabulary –
a mythology of cities built like a circuit board;
a skeletal picture of where he’d like to belong.

He is wrapped in a blanket of grey paint,
and sometimes an apple will roll to the surface,
sometimes a mirror, or an apple in the mirror.

Sometimes a lion will lift a lazy paw
and pull the blanket from the other side of the bed;
leaving him exposed to the dark of the room.

He walks on the surface of heaven,
he holds his own heart in the palm of his hand,
his eye is a metronome; candle, bird, candle, bird.


In this, the dawn of the apocalypse
the cowboys have itchy fingers
as they ride into the centre of town.

Not a squeak can be heard
from the people that live here,
though a dog howls, chained up in a yard.

A game of cards sits unplayed
on a kitchen table. The winner
hides under a bed, unsure of his hand.

After Hours

At night the mannequins
come alive in the basement

and the ones in the window
unhitch all their clothes.

In their new state
they are unshod and sexless

and when the conductor
(a demiurge in spangled jacket)

taps his baton
they all sing with one voice.

Helen Ivory was born in Luton in 1969 and has a degree from Norwich Art School. Recipient of a 1999 Eric Gregory Award, she has three collections of poetry with Bloodaxe Books, the most recent being The Breakfast Machine(2010). She is currently working towards a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at UEA, is an Editor for The Poetry Archiveand Deputy Editor for the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears.


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