Faultless Design – Helen Shay

Not an elegant way
to remember you,
perched on a railway
loo, and yet the image
comes every time,
every train and every toilet.

The sign is still there,
as you are too in that jerk
of memory and humour
whilst the train chugs on
and I guard the door.

Sharing your poetically
surreal humiliation
has saved me from it
many times more
than that overlooked
absurd notice.

Your sense of fun
has enlightened
my travel. It seems
that your poetry
keeps on pressing
my UNLOCK button.

I picture you
gazing helplessly…
above naked knees
a forever pure
poetry virgin,
smiling still.

Like flashes
through a tunnel,
such moments pierce
the dark of a journey,
signposted in the writing
you left behind.


My poem is inspired by Julia’s short comic early poem Design Fault which appeared in The Poetry Virgins anthology Sauce, and really by her sense of fun that comes across in her work, together with that love of travelling around and sense of drifting into different aspects of life to observe them the more keenly. My poem itself covers the memory that has stayed with me. I have felt inspired by Julia’s work – poetry and prose – to keep on my own writing journey and always to explore new ground.

Helen Shay

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