The Scarecrow


Lilly always said the scarecrow was her friend.  The rest of us kids didn’t like it. We wouldn’t admit it, but we found the ugly monstrosity really scary. Kids never admit they’re afraid, but they usually are. Of thigs that go bump in the night, or lights out, or some godawful half human/half stuffing thing staring down at you out in the field.

But not Lilly. She loved the scarecrow. She named him Jim, after some cousin of hers she’s seen in photos but never met. Her family moved out here about a decade ago, before Lilly was born. Leaving everything behind. Some said they were running from something. I always thought they seemed more like they were running towards something – us, our community, the farm.

I don’t know. Just seemed that way to me when I was ten. Not sure how it would seem now. But that was so long ago.

She said Jim, her cousin, died that summer when she really took to the scarecrow.  She’d swear blind that Jim was there, in the stuffed thing. She said he had nowhere else to go and no-one else to love but her. A she said sometimes he’d even come out of the field to talk with her. Because he was lonely.

I think Lilly just wanted someone to love.  Her family were strange. Real, real cold. They never mixed, never came to church, and little Lilly used to run away all the time to the fields to see Jim. I think she was lonely. Hell, I’d have been lonely living in her house, with her family.

Then Lilly said she was going away with Jim. They’d decided to run away together. What a fanciful girl, I thought. I laughed at her. I guess most of us kids laughed at her. Most of the time.  Lilly didn’t care. She was quite sure of it.

Then one day I saw her in the field, near the scarecrow, and she wasn’t alone. Some man was with her, head bowed, leaning over to talk to her. The scarecrow looked thinner somehow, like the man had jumped out of it. Stupid I know.

I should have gone to check. Lilly disappeared that day -I guess with the man.  It’s scary to think. I tried to comfort myself that the scarecrow looked smaller, like Jim really did jump right out of it to ran away with her. My childish self did kind of believe that.

But now I’m grown. And scarecrows don’t turn into people, do they? I mean, there’s darker and more realistic versions of this story. 

Still, whenever I visit the field I check to see the scarecrow still looks thin and bedraggled – more so than always. Because at least then, I can hope….

© Helen M Valentina 2020

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Full Six Feet Deep

Image Credit: Fahroni/

Full six feet deep we sleep

The canopy of stars and clouds may weep

Across the centuries we sweep

Our secrets and our lies to keep

Full six feet deep we sleep


Full six feet deep we lie

Our wars and all our death decry

Till we may meet here by and by

So still, we simply moan and sigh

Full six feet deep we lie


Full six feet death remain

The wind will whisper sweet refrain

As though we’ve something to explain

Bu even on this darkling plain

Full six feet deep remain


Full six feet deep we sleep

And dream that in the stars we leap

No valley low, no mountain steep

As though our promises to keep

Still, six feet deep we sleep


© Helen M Valentina 2020


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Man In Shadows

Image Credit: Damian Lamonte/

Man in shadows in the rain
Face is hidden from your sight
You might wish he would remain
Or on seeing him take flight
He’s like death
And on his breath
A promise sparkles bright

In the rain such shadows cast
Images your mind reveals
Prisoners held against the mast
You can tell them how it feels
Promise made
Is yet betrayed
With every breath he steals

Man in shadows hides his smile
Softest voice caress your ears
He’s been waiting quite a while
Just to draw you ever near
He’s a curse
And what is worse
The one you never feared

(c). Helen M Valentina 2020

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Purple Princess

Image Credit: FXQuadro/

Purple princess of the dawn
From the flesh your beauty torn
From the air your whirling mind
You’re a creature of their kind
Half like us and half insane
Beauty saturates and stains
Till nothing else remains

Purple princess of the night
Red and raw your hunger aches
Dark and drenched the blood you crave
Innocence becomes depraved
Half of dark and half of light
Perfect bounty in our sight
Eyes that weep and teeth that bite

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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The Hands

Image Credit: Sample Stars/

The last thing I saw was the hands.

I’m the only witness, the only one left behind after the picnic. The one who wandered off, following butterflies into the forest in the other direction, only roused to return when I heard the screams.

Didn’t see what got them. I didn’t get there soon enough and something tells me that was for the best. For me anyway. Something whispers in my bones that if I’d got back quicker I’d have gone too.

Where my friends went I have no idea. I didn’t see a world open, or a flash of light, or them being drawn into some form of whirlpool or warp in the fabric of the air. All I saw was the hands. Still grasping that one tree, holding on, as though that could keep them here, with me, with us, not let them go…there.

Wherever there is…but it was just the hands, and only for a few mere seconds. Grasping, desperate, disembodied.

Before they were gone. They were gone too.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Image Credit: Teodor Lazarev/

They call it re-membering. The process makers have a kind of dry sense of humour. It’s actually the head that comes first, to bring back the seat of the soul, and the sensory apparatus, but that’s cruel really, as then every bit of re-configuration, re-being, re-membering (literally) is painful, conscious, aware and slow. Horribly slow.

So the joke is, the members – be it arms, legs, or other more personal things – come last, and it’s excruciating.

They don’t tell you that in the pamphlets, the brochures. They only say, if you get a disease we can’t cure yet we ‘dissolve’ your essence and hold it in statis until we can cure, then we bring you back. They don’t say how. I reckon if they did, most would just choose to die by the illness.

But perhaps that’s just me.

I know because I’m a nurse here. I’ve see one too many re-memberings to ever take that course myself. But I still I smile and speak softly and never tell the truth when we are drawing in the clients. And those that come back keep quiet because we can always dissolve them again remotely if they threaten to tell too much – having done it once, they’re ours.

We make sure they know it. Oh yes, we are much more informative on the other side of all of this. Before – ignorance is bliss, but after the re-membering, silence is truly golden.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Crows Fly at Night

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Crows fly at night
Dawn wakens bright
Red with blood and death
As we lay the wreath
Perfect in our sight

Crows sing at dawn
New world is born
Red with death and blood
Ushers in a god
Heaven plundered, torn

Crows soon depart
Broken like hearts
Red with blood and loss
Each must pay the cost
Promised at the start

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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In Dolls


They hide in dolls she told us, but we didn’t listen. Just a little girl with her fantasies and games we thought. And while her fear of the toys we gave her did seem extreme, we simply put it down to an over-active imagination and far too much streaming questionable film on Netflix. In fact my husband said one day we should shut off the service altogether since she was too impressionable. But then I reminded him I’d get bored without it and then he’d have to entertain me and we laughed and laughed about that till Netflix remained.

They hide in dolls she would insist over the dinner table. And what, we’d indulge her, were ‘they’? The things that hide in dolls she’d reply as though adults are really very stupid and can’t see the obvious right in front of them.

Well, they have to hide somewhere dear, my husband said. Otherwise we’d catch them wouldn’t we?

Oh no, she told us, they never get caught. But one day, she said, when we aren’t looking, they’ll catch us. Clever girl, but a bit obsessed with it all I thought. My uncle is a psychotherapist, so I thought about her visiting him for a while. But time just runs away with you these days, doesn’t it, so I didn’t ever follow through.

They hide in dolls she said yesterday, as she lined her dolls up in the lounge room as though to make point to her particularly obstinate and blind audience. We laughed, for a little while, then noticed something. The line of dolls had moved forward.

How did you do that we asked our daughter. I didn’t she replied, they moved themselves. They aren’t hiding anymore.

That was yesterday. Today we are in some kind of dark barn, locked up by the dolls, and we’ve lots of time to think about how we should have listened to our daughter. But we can’t even talk to her about that, because she’s with the dolls now, so I guess she chose her side.

And far more wisely than my husband and I.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Ghost in Chains

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Here I remain
Here I reside
Your ghost in chains
Latched to your side
Your victim still
My rosy breath
A bloodless kill
Your perfect death

As once in life
I suffered pain
Your dutiful wife
In death remain
A promise made
A thoughtless vow
Where once obeyed
I’ll haunt you now

Here I will dance
And merry make
Your circumstance
Your worst mistake
For ghosts so near
Catch you in chains
Until in fear
You too, remain

(c). Helen M Valentina 2020

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A Visit to the Dentist

Image Credit: EllieStark/

Open wide. The implants have taken nicely and I’m sure you’ll have found the multitude of incisors more efficient than the older model.

Why yes, we worked this version for many months in the laboratory. There’s some talk around we’ll get a prize at this years Dental Association awards for this break through.

Just progress though, isn’t it? And so necessary. Once the worldwidefood shortages forced us all to rethink cannibalism we had re-think the dental environment too. The old tech, while traditionally prettier some might say, are just not fast and tough enough for our new daily diet. We can’t spend all day tenderising the human meat, and many butchers are still averse to even working with the delicacies at all, so we had to improvise.

What’s that, you keep biting your tongue? Well, yes, it is a problem with this model. We are thinking of things do about that. A new type of mouth guard.

Yes that’s right, we’ve heard that too, people going off their mind control meds and tasting their tongue then getting a bit too hungry from that for their own good. But you won’t go off your meds now, will you? Course not. No-one sensible and civilised would do that.

OK, you’re done, just rinse with the mouthwash and the dental technician will do a quick hygiene check and you’ll be good to go.

Oh, and make sure to give us a good rating on the Dental Social media sites after your visit. Every little bit helps, as I’m sure you agree.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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