Poetry Showcase from Doryn Herbst

CW: Institutional neglect

Going Home from the Day Centre

Care provider: Your mother smeared the walls with chocolate cake.

Me: What sparked it off?

Care provider:

We cannot look into the minds of our clients.

We haven’t got enough staff at the best of times. People off sick as well. The quiet room is the place for her when she is so agitated.

On top of which, you’re fifteen minutes late.

They let Mum out. She ran towards me, chest heaving, wiping a hand across her face.

They stole my bus money.
Wouldn’t let me out.
I thought I would never see you again.
I haven’t got any clothes here.

I took hold of her hand, pushed a curl of wet hair behind her ear.

I pick you up by car, Mum. Come, let’s go home, have a chat.

Half an old bicycle

propped up against railings
running along the train tracks.
Left to rust,
it has less than a sense of well-being.

Bitter rain spatters the skeleton-frame. 
Snow will come, sun will come. 
Martens will come to chew away
the tyre that remains.

One day the council will come,
take away the scrap, sell off 
the metal.

The bicycle wishes for a finer ending.

Orion

Last night, I saw Orion.

The street lamps were glowing but to my delight
I spotted the constellation.

At a time when the gods interfered with our lives more,
Artemis, goddess of the hunt, walked with the pack,
leapt with the hares and ran with the grace of a doe.
Wind snarled through her hair, mahogany
as Apollo’s was golden. The mist in the mountains
was green.

Artemis saw Orion, demigod and great hunter,
took him as her companion.
Apollo could not endure the loss of his sister’s attention
to a giant who stank like a skunk.

He schemed and tricked her into killing her best friend
with the tip of a silver arrow. Agony and ferocity
in duel, Artemis chased after her betrayer.
The huntress was unable to hit her target.
He was her twin.

Reaching the feet of Zeus, king of the gods,
father of many, their father, Artemis begged him
in the wail of a trapped fox to enshrine
her best friend’s body.

Zeus, stronger than one hundred oxen,
lifted Orion and flung him beyond the sky
in the guise of a group of stars.

Bio Doryn, a former scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine,Fenland Poetry Journal, celestite poetry and more. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry

3 poems by Doryn Herbst : I Try to Think, You Stay Calm, & The Knife

shallow focus photography of white feather dropping in person's hand

photo by Javardh (unsplash)

I Try to Think   
CW: Institutional Abuse

I cannot hold my fork
without dropping it five times
and five more times again.
I cannot walk but I can feel.
I cannot talk but I can scream.
Now, I have been put out of the way
to teach me how to behave
in the right way.

But you, your hands so gentle,
your smile so sweet,
take my wheelchair out of the cold,
welcome me back into the warm.

When confusion explodes in my head
like fireworks in the sky,
I try to think I know that you are right
to say, kindness is the only way.

Even when the others say
that they have more experience
than you, that they know best,
that you do not know
how to do things in the right way.
They tell you it must not happen again,
you behave in such a way
that is too soft, you must remember,
the rules must be obeyed. 

I try to think I know that you are right
because my legs do so hurt so very much


You, Stay Calm!
CW: Institutional abuse

I can’t do the things
as quickly as you want me
to do them.

When you get upset,
I get upset.

I can’t explain to you how I feel,
I can’t explain anything at all,
so, I have to show you by what I do.
I don’t want to throw food across the table,
pull your hair hard or scratch your cheek.
I want you to see me
and what I need.

Your voice is very loud,
I see you are even more upset
and so am I. Now, two people are needed
to calm me down.

I have to come to this establishment 
because I have some special needs.

Why can’t you just give me
the space and time I need to finish
what you want me to do?


The Knife

One sentence,

like a slim, fine knife,
double-edged, sharp,

to cut you dead.

Slips easily to the centre
of the heart.





The Flower Seller at Piccadilly Circus by Doryn Herbst (c/w: War)

Bio: Doryn Herbst, formerly a scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. She is putting together a pamphlet-sized series about violence in its many facets. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Journal and more, plus work forthcoming in Fenland Poetry Journal, Re-side Zine and The Dawntreader. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry journal.

A Poetry Showcase for Doryn Herbst





Poetry: Things I Didn’t Tell You by Doryn Herbst

Things I Didn’t Tell You

Of course, the cape and hood I gave you
needn’t have been so beacon-bright.
Perhaps, I should have thought about
the danger that this could invite.

I wasn’t sent to school or given any books,
the hearth had seldom any glow,
the pantry barely any food.
No harm was done, I did just fine
and so will you, my Little Red.

You’ll have to collect your wits all by yourself
into your scarlet picnic basket.
Learn the signs, one stroke at a time,
be able to recognise good intentions
from those that are unkind.

If you are lucky, you will be saved
but it won’t be you who gets to dictate
the ending of your story.

That is, of course, one more thing
I didn’t think to tell you about.

Bio: Doryn Herbst, formerly a scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. She is putting together a pamphlet-sized series about violence in its many facets. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Journal and more, plus work forthcoming in Fenland Poetry Journal, Re-side Zine and The Dawntreader. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry journal.

Poetry: Terrorising or Terrorised by Doryn Herbst

Terrorising or Terrorised

The Terrorised
land on western shores by night
in boats not built to cross the oceans,
so risk their livers to attain their dreams
or will it just be a continuation of their
nightmares.

Terror, Illegal Aliens and Invaders,
the Invaded call them,
come to grab what they do not deserve.

But guilt does not lie in one corner,
does not arrange itself in one direction
or rest alone with either the
Invaders nor the Invaded.

Some take a cut of money that changes hands
behind closed doors. Use the cash, in turn, to flee
themselves from hunger, thirst and civil war
sustained by weapons sold by the very people
living on the shores to which they flee.

The Invaded feel a violation but like
the cheap goods which the Invaders process
and pack at a low cost in the New Homelands
to which they come.


Bio: Doryn Herbst, formerly a scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. She is putting together a pamphlet-sized series about violence in its many facets. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Journal and more, plus work forthcoming in Fenland Poetry Journal, Re-side Zine and The Dawntreader. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry journal.

The Flower Seller at Piccadilly Circus by Doryn Herbst (c/w: War)

The Flower Seller at Piccadilly Circus

The flower seller sits on the steps in front of the statue of Anteros,
hanks of greying hair poke out from under her hat,
her call smothered by the sound of horses, motorcars and omnibus.

A dirty-green shawl, scant protection against the chilly morning air,
even when she sells all the flowers, it is difficult to make ends meet.

Men in uniform walk the streets, cavalry pass along Regent Street.
There are fewer flower sellers around now. Some younger ones
have disappeared onto the land or into the factories
to do their duty for our boys, men and country.

             And out on the Western Front, they scrutinise the space
             between fellow men yet foreign enemies
             Rats, cold, hunger accompany their daily terror of death by sniper.
            A letter back home to a loved one, suspension of reality for a moment
            but vermin and bloody gore never leave them.

In the towns and villages, the women and children wait.


Bio: Doryn Herbst, formerly a scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. She is putting together a pamphlet-sized series about violence in its many facets. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Journal and more, plus work forthcoming in Fenland Poetry Journal, Re-side Zine and The Dawntreader. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry journal.

A Poetry Showcase for Doryn Herbst


3 poems by Doryn Herbst : I Try to Think, You Stay Calm, & The Knife