A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Eric Helms


Imagine a completely different version 
27,000 feet above zero. 
There I am, a pseudo-Greek statue 
frozen amidst the Death zone. 
I’m trying to tell you something. 
Please continue the search and rescue. 
I am making my debut in a plush pressure suit. 
Blasting my trombone, which sounds 
like an asshole having a stroke. 
Imagine that that can’t be edited out. 
Also, my spit hath frozen to my mouth. 
I need to evacuate. I’ve already dropped 
40 pounds. I’d rather be down 
at the villa, in the arcade, i.e. in outer space 
with a suitcase, eating a plummity plum 
on July 29th, 1891. 
But the Sun hath started to come down 
with the heralds of passing out 
and a guy selling nitrogen. 
I need more oxygen? 
I think I have some. I think I am some. 
I think I am sailing for charm and concision. 
I am aching for this swan to become my wife. 
I am frozen, a completely pseudo-version 
of life, the degenerating type, 
the most bizarre of all equations. 
One who is clear and as abruptly bright 
as an l.e.d light. At any height, any price— 
We shineth like an atom! Even as you become 
conscious that that is a Sherpa, frozen 
at the summit—where one must recount 
the darkest of appetites. 
In what storm, off which side 
of the mountain will I plummet; 
by which painted pumpkin 
will I be found? In chainmail, in the heartiest 
of spells? Breathing fire and ice 
into the most bizarre of equations, 
which does and does not 
behave as a binary notation, 
according to Quantum assumptions.


I dropped into an evening party of B-picture personalities 
who, in a perfunctory fashion, were walking through 
the actions of the characters they had never fully become. 

One was pressed against a glass door, and in the attire of a mail 
carrier. Another was holding a bowl of cherries, which he said 
had broken his heart. I tucked a couple into my breast pocket 
and excused myself, just as I watched him touch my mother’s hand. 

Later on, my opinions being confused, I continued to walk 
until I had walked through an entire dance hall, which had 
no roof or walls. The quiet chant of the air in an unstruck 

hour—might have been so much that I woke only in a crimson- 
leather jacket, a bird in my hand. 

How to account for the difference of light that would fall from her blue 
and yellow shoulder? That too—a dream I do not wish to comprehend.

My favorite keepsake would be a ‘93 six-pack of Coca-Cola, marking the North Carolina Tarheels' triumph over the Michigan Wolverines (77-71) at the Louisiana Superdome.  After the game, most headlines read “Webber’s Timeout Gives UNC the Championship.”  The six aluminum cans are blue instead of red--in honor of Dean Smith's second national title.  The rumor went that the coke inside was blue instead of brown.  I've kept the beverages in a bedside chest ever since they arrived in the spring of ‘93.  From time to time, I check for signs of erosion.  A sticky, tar-like substance now marks the bottoms.  It is brown.

Eric Helms holds degrees from Furman University and Columbia University's School of the Arts.  He works at Columbia University and is an editor for Redheaded Stepchild.  His latest work can be found in American Athenaeum and Death Hums, Issue 2.