blackmail press 25
Helen Rickerby
New Zealand

cast down - mephisto jones
Helen Rickerby's second poetry collection, My Iron Spine, was published last year. She is co-managing editor of "JAAM" literary magazine, and runs a teeny-tiny publishing company, "Seraph Press". Her latest project is making video poems, and she can often be found hanging out at
The happiness of Mary Shelley
A poem for three voices


I was no stranger to happiness
I knew it as I once knew
                  every bump
on the smoothness
of my lover’s skin

I was born under a lucky star
storms and portents
heralded my birth
I sprang, fully formed
from the union
of two matchless minds
A child of love and light
How could I be anything
but filled with promise


I have known happiness
in such abundance
that I could have drowned
in it, and God will forgive me
when I say
that I wish I had
when I was an innocent
child whose eyes
did not yet look
towards the stars


Have I known happiness?
Is it like the burning of ice
inside my mouth
as I convoyed across
the marzipan continent
the only wedding cake
I will ever have?

I think I knew happiness,
or something like it
in the moments
when I looked back
and saw his dark shape
emerge at my vanishing point
and in the early morning
when I left clues and riddles
little love letters to my god


I have known happiness
I knew it in the deluded moments
when I thought
that I could be accepted
as I am
I knew it
when I believed my father
would lay aside
convention, value my conviction

When I believed my father
would still love me


The spark of knowledge
is the phantom, the shadow
of happiness
Knowledge, I believed, was the power
of my life-force
Without knowledge
I would be deadened
but it is better to be dead
than to be damned


I knew happiness
I knew it in the deluded moments
when I thought
that I could be accepted
as I am
When I believed
someone could see past
my face, value my good acts
my heart

When I believed my father
could love me


Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
My very name mocks me
The names of my
much-loved, never-known mother
my father
who taught me everything
but would not be taught by me

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My name
linked forever
with his


Victor Frankenstein
My very name mocks me
Victor of the stone of the Franks
My great Genovese family
a stone around my neck

I am no victor
I am defeated


I am the child
who died so soon
after leaving the womb
that I was never named
never mentioned
by the parents who have
no love left
in their hardened hearts


If you remain childless
you do not have to face
the horror
of the small life-force
snuffed away
watch the electricity
and animation
slip from their limbs
Is it better to have loved
and tried
and lost and failed?
Or is a child
a monster
rent from your womb
to bring misery


I am left only half a man
The creature, my doppelganger
took my reason
but I know he has no heart
for I feel it here
                  still beating
in my chest
my ribcage
holding it from cracking


If I were happy
I would be good

and if I were good
I would be happy

If I were loved
I would be happy

if I were not hated
I would be good

Jesus Christ, Saviour

If you were to cross Jesus Christ
and Adolf Hitler
perhaps Klaus Kinski
is what
you would get

One man
in a floral shirt
spotlit against black

You would not mistake him
for a fragile man

German is a language of orders
made for shouting

Even the good news
sounds ominous

In his voice
the words of Christ
are new, mad


A performance, a play
a sermon, a message?
Is he an actor, a saviour
a half-crazy doing a job?

Does he mean the words he’s saying?
He speaks of love
with hate
in his voice, of peace
with a slap

Stop him, and he will start over
at the beginning

Jesus Christ’

He starts over
and over

until you believe
he speaks the truth