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Best Poems Written by Helen J Radford

Below are the all-time best Helen J Radford poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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Details | Helen J Radford Poem

My Grandma Smelt of Peppermints

My Grandma smelt of peppermints. 
Her kitchen of boiling bacon, 
and margarine - it was always steamy 
and 'welcomingly' warm. 

The bathroom, off the kitchen, 
smelt of carbolic soap, and a layer 
of talcum powder dusted the cupboards 
a reminder of its liberal use. 

The garden, with a greenhouse, 
had a glorious array of pinks 
and Sweet Williams - it was always summer: 
no winters here, always sunny, as I recall..... 

The old corrugated air-raid shelter, 
above ground now, was a haven 
for childhood, childish games. 
It smelt of paraffin from the heater. 

My Grandma smelt of peppermints. 
She would lick her hanky and 
wipe my mouth if it was sticky 
from the gingerbread she'd made. 

My Grandma always looked the same, 
never younger, never older:- 
her memory etched in my cerebral 
photo frame as I remember her ........ 

smelling of peppermints, 
fingers deformed with crippling arthritis, 
but smiling, wiping mouths, cooking, 
or sitting in her little garden in a floral dress..... 

She's been gone for thirty years now, 
but still I see her there. 
I see the  tissue filled pockets in her 
'pinny'and the pin-curls in her hair. 

Yes, my Grandma smelt of peppermints.........

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2008



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The Owl

I have become like him; nocturnal. 
Prematurely anaesthetised by exhaustion 
then jerked awake into the darkness. 
How long since I have slept 'til dawn? 
A stifled yawn veiling scurrying thoughts. 

Tennis match of emotions; back and forth; 
volleying, lobbing this way and that. 
The game, set and match of insomnia. 
Then rallying forth as dawn brings clarity. 
Despairing disparity sleeping finally. 

The silence of the night amplifies my heartbeat. 
Each breath echoes in the unsettled gloom. 
As the dawn casts its ghostly light around the room 
sleepless wakefulness wanes with the retiring moon, 
and the owl rests, fatigued by his 'whooing'. 

Unlike me he can sleep by day, the night is his time, 
not mine; I am the intruder in the darkness; 
a restless insomniac with an overactive brain. 
Sleep well majestic wise one.  No doubt, 
when night falls, I will share your company again.

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2008

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

'and the walls came crashing down..........'

A knock at the door, who can it be? 
Probably Sarah coming for tea. 
She usually calls on her way 
back from work to share some time with me. 
  
A look in the mirror, 
I 'tut' at my face: 
Why do people always call 
when there's junk around the place? 

I open the door - a man is standing there. 
I wish I'd worn some make up 
I wish I'd done my hair. 
It's then I spot the uniform: 

the buttons made of brass; 
the stripes that grace the khaki sleeves; 
the boots that crunch amongst the leaves. 
I question with my eyes? 

It comes as no surprise to hear him ask 
can he come in, and would I like to sit?' 
He has some rather grievous news - 
- I dread to hear it. 

I know what he is going to say. 
It's all a dream. Please go away. 
I'm not in to truth today 
I scream inside my head...... 

I know what he just said to me, 
but I didn't hear a word. 
His lips spoke out in silence, and me, 
I never heard. 

He's 'so sorry'. He gets up to go 
and heads towards the door. 
I try to rise to follow him 
but my legs will move no more; 

for they have turned to jelly and 
my head is going to burst. 
It's funny, when you're a soldier's wife, 
you always fear the worst, 

But it's only when you hear the knock, 
the knock upon the door, 
and see the face you've never seen: 
the shining boots, the uniform; 

the mouth that speaks the silent words 
the apologies and platitudes; 
'killed in action in the war" 
The widow thoughts ring clear.

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2008

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The Secret

Deep inside there lies a secret. 
It dwells in the crevices of solitude 
and swims on the tide of fulfillment. 

It peeps out in moments of stillness 
and rubs its sleepy eyes waking from 
fitful slumber, encumbered by its anonymity. 

Tucked away from view while the search goes on 
and on it goes, day and night, darkness and light, 
it stays out of sight until the mayhem ceases. 

The searcher sighs, and rubs his sleepy eyes 
waking from the slumber of the banal; 
the chase, the race that it has been for him. 

Where can it be this elusive meaning to his life? 
The love he longs for? God?  The peace he dreams of 
finding?  The contentment and serenity? 

He hardly hears it at first, but then it finds its voice; 
his soul speaks from deep within; it tells him of a secret 
and at last he stills himself long enough to listen. 



Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2010

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

The Nurse to the Patient (To Jackie R.I.P)

I only had a glmpse of you - 
a glimpse, the night before you died: 
A once beautiful lady, still beautiful, 
preparing to die - such grace, such poise. 

There was an aura about you - 
an aura of peace and serenity. 
No fear.  No expression of anxiety. 
just a deep committed faith, a knowledge. 

We shared a secret you and I. 
We shared a hug; a tranquil moment. 
Not knowing, yet knowing so much, 
saying little except by look or touch. 

No last rites - no time. 
No consecrated bread or wine. 
No oil to annoint or prayers 
to guide you home - just me....... 

Just me, sitting with you on your bed. 
Just a stranger's hand to hold, 
yet nothing strange - 
A deep unspoken understanding, 

A unity of spirits.  A conjoining of souls. 
You touched my heart with your grace. 
Your eyes penetrated my intrinsic epicentre 
and imprinted in my mind, your face. 

When I heard you'd gone I wept inside - 
I didn't know you, why? 
Death is no stranger to me 
I meet it every day - 

Yet sometimes, a departing soul pauses for a while, 
and there's a glimpse, a clue, 
like you when you were still here - or there 
when you were in death's waiting room. 
Strangely, I was too. 


Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2008



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Lonely

I thought we had found it; 
that elusive 'it', but I 
glimpse and it is gone again. 

Held for an instant then lost, 
slipping from my grasp 
then tumbling into memory's abyss. 

Back to harsh reality; garish, 
abrasive, sore, insensitive; 
a distant vision of a tender kiss. 

As you return to your selfishness 
I am alone again; made lonely 
in the emptiness of longing. 

Belonging yet separate somehow. 
Some things never change so 
perhaps we shouldn't try? 

Perhaps the tenderness and 
love I seek, will be saved 
for our 'goodbye'? 

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2010

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

Futility of War

F or each life lost a mother grieves
U ntil the last shot is fired she will never sleep.
T ears will fall as we count the cost.
I ll winds blow as the war goes on.
L ove must prevail for peace to win
I t must stay strong to make evil give in.
T ime ticks by with each life snuffed out.
Y et no lessons are learned as the enemies shout

O f rights and power,
F orce and might,

W illing the other to acknowledge they are right.
A lways remember that for each life lost
R emains a nation counting the cost.

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2009

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

In Simpatico

We fit now; we complete one another. 
Our lives have melted into one 
and we dissolve into the unity
which consolidates our synthesis. 

We fit now; we complement one another. 
Our differences unite us. Our individuality 
only serves to combine our commonality; 
our separateness compounds our pairing. 

We fit now you and I. Sharing the same path; 
Sometimes together, sometimes apart. 
We deviate and divide, only to combine again 
when occupational distraction is done. 

We are comfortable and contented. 
There is no division in description; 
we are affiliated in partnership, 
blended, amalgamated, in simpatico. 

Our bodies merge in the conformity of belonging. 
The longing dovetails our diversity and unites us. 
We have emerged from the swirl of separation 
as one and I love you.  We fit now.

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2010

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

Sunrise Over the Sea

The sun hovers on the horizon and 
shimmers its rays across the sea.
In this snatched moment life is balanced -
as I breathe in its peace and tranquility.

A life's quest for contentment encapsulated
in this serene instant...... suspended ......
mentally photographed for posterity.
Glimpsed - then gone - as the journey continues.

Now, today, in this time frame, in this instant,
I am happy:  I have found it; the elusive
rare butterfly; the slippery eel caught - held -
then gasped for as it slips from my grasp.

When I look back on this time, this place.
I know it will be remembered fondly.
I will handle it gently, removing it from
the cerebral tissue paper which preserves it....

carefully unwrapping, piece by piece.....
trying to recapture the clarity; the colours,
the mood, but not quite as my memory 
becomes ravaged by the blurring  of time.

I recall when the sun hovered on the horizon
and shimmered its rays across the sea.
In that snatched moment, already gone,
I found perfect contentment and peaceful symmetry.


Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2008

Details | Helen J Radford Poem

Silent Sentinel

                                                  In the ethereal world of promises 
                                                we drift on angel wings of expectation. 
                                           Held in the heavenly security of their embrace; 
                               captivated by faces of perfect love; in whom we completely trust. 
                     On earth we can know no such promise, for its comes only with our dreams. 
                                 On earth we are tousled and tainted by worldly heaviness and 
                                  overwhelming responsibility.  Negativity gnawing at our soul; 
                                 perforating hope, negating love, yet up above we are watched 
                                   by guardian angels.  They feel our pain, and grimace as the 
                                      agony of living unfolds. They yearn to hold our battered 
                                         spirit and infuse peace within it, but are thwarted as 
                                            the rabid madness of the world takes hold. 
                                               Angels watch over us and we can call 
                                                them to our aid.  Let us dwell, forever, 
                                                 in the ethereal world of promises.

Copyright © Helen J Radford | Year Posted 2009

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