photo by Dave Gutteridge

Stripped by Helen Ivory

in Poetry/Spotlight

The kitchen is a little messy for burlesque,

but let’s begin;

shift the chickens, stake that bleating goat,

slide the jug of wine to one side.


You’re home a little early from her bed –

your supper is still bubbling on the stove.

My hair is restless as a nest of snakes,

your shirts are pegged out on the whirligig.


Behold the dance I practice every night,

the dining table is a makeshift stage;

I serve myself up as a ransacked eel.

That girl will learn these labours soon enough.


Don’t you know her eyes are painted on?

The glamour of the candles

will describe solely what you think is there.

The same goes for that cock-a-doodle-do of hair.


For the finale, I shuck off my nylon veil;

my nakedness is lately venom to your sight.

Here’s your ring back, those asinine mix-tapes –

I’ll tear out a rib, return it on an oval plate.



from The Anatomical Venus:


Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist. Her fifth Bloodaxe collection is The Anatomical Venus (May 2019). It was shortlisted for last year’s East Anglian Book Awards, and won the EDP, East Anglian Writers ‘By the Cover Award.’ She edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears and is a tutor for UEA/NCW online creative writing. 

Jude Cowan Montague is an artist and broadcaster. She produces 'The News Agents' for Resonance FM, a weekly show experimenting with international story and the arts. She worked at Reuters Television News for many years as an archivist and this has informed her poetry and some of her art. She's an award winning printmaker and a composer. Her graphic memoir 'Love on the Isle of Dogs' is available from Central Books.