Issue 18: Helen Charman

Tampon panic attack


  Dream dissolves of lost limbed girls in fairgrounds, is this

  a quick-come fever? Search your palms on the train to

  find the rash are they always this red / perhaps you just

  don’t look. Waking up in bloodied underwear once felt

  like shame but now is gorgeous, a victory: red sheets are

  like flirting. Wisteria falling rich across the house front

  evasive blue sky against brickwork evasively blue (means

  actually cruel) call an election, keep calling, they can’t

  tell bloodied bodies from clean. Toxic shock, I christen

  thee, so baby call away. Flowers / not enough / sorry. If

  you think I’ve got a fierce red mind, wait til you see my



Misbegotten positive reality, muffin top just another symptom

of the excluded middle. Nothing can be both; apple-bellied is

worse than small beer. Not-A is absence, which is everywhere.


Always already happening somewhere, as if the way it is done

is what is done. You first have belief, which leads to the practice /

the way it is done is usually for the best. Always already leaving

without notice, it must have already happened if you want to think

about it. Flowers are soft and so vulnerable to the diversity of

interpretation / the way you do it is what actually happens. Remember:

it is natural to be fearful; it is necessary to be tougher than the rest.


     There is a fierce grit in the genius of girls; there has

     to be, they’re bleeding. ‘It is interesting, but I don’t

     love it.’ What kind of charlatan says that?





Prosody daddy

‘They will not, for a long time, see thisas a new form of love’— Adrienne Rich


          Women and girls rule

           my world!

          It’s not radical it’s just

          that masculine lack of

          sympathetic education

          means I don’t have a

          choice. Win win.

  How many bathrooms have you

  cried in? At parties, or at home?

  Even my search engine doesn’t

  understand me still

   I ask them one at a time: does

   he like me / does the dog die.

   How long do snails sleep

   for? And why?

    This garden is too full, the

    abundance is threatening

    and I won’t stand for it.

  Oh sweet masculinity!  I

  watch you wrap your scent

  around the houses I watch

  as everybody loses.

I just want to live alone I just want

a little peace. You can’t be too flirty,

baby! I know how to undress me.

Helen Charman is a writer and a PhD student researching nineteenth-century maternity, sacrifice, and political economy. She teaches undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, and primary school children in Hackney. Her poetry has been published in Hotel and Datableed, and her other writing can be found in The Germ, King's Review, Dazed and Confused, the LRB Blog and The Inkling Magazine.