On the launch day of ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’ an offering from its author and our editor Helen Ivory


My Two Fathers


When my father removes his skin
he steps to one side and tidies
the old skin away with a dustpan and brush.

He wants nothing more
than not to make a spectacle
but my mother insists he fill it with stones.

The stone father is anchored
to the armchair, while the other
goes upstairs to his room in a sulk.

The stone father holds the television control,
orchestrates the night’s entertainment.
The other stays asleep like a bear.


Helen Ivory’s fourth Bloodaxe collection Waiting for Bluebeard is out now. She is also an artist, teaches for the Poetry School, for the Arvon Foundation, is a Poetry Society ‘Surgeon‘ and  an editor for The Poetry Archive.  My Two Fathers is taken from Waiting for Bluebeard.


  1. Yes, as in most perceptions, duality — if not multiple impressions — are derived from memory. Playwrights deal with this in every line, every shift of scenes. U have done it here, Helen.

  2. Helen, I loved this poem. If you don’t mind my saying so it was like a wonderful mix of Angela Carter’s retelling of folktales and Pascal Petit’s surreal animal poems. But unmistakeably yours. Very memorable.
    Congratulations on the book – I’ll get a copy when you come to Zest! so you can sign it for me.

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