Helena Pantsis (she/they) is a poet and writer from Naarm, Australia, and a full-time student of psychology and creative writing with a fond appreciation for the gritty, the dark, and the experimental. She has had works published in Voiceworks, Farrago, and Meanjin. More of her work can be found at hlnpnts.com.
"I was born without a face"
Meanjin, June 2021
Like The Truman Show, only opposite, /
where all the cameras are turned away from me. /
A torchlight repelling darkness wherever it /
shines; I need some semblance of watchfulness or /
a capsule of un-ill, taken and swallowed blue.
"I DO NOT FEAR THE DEATH OF THE PEOPLE, / I FEAR THE DEATH OF THE EARTH."
Heat Issue, Haloscope Mag, July 2020
he is / a dog on the side of the road with his stomach bared / his peach plump flesh tender to the touch / ripened to the point of splitting / he's deemed a sacrifice at the mercy of his organs, / farmed like the wheat and the grain / and the cows at the slaughter
Gone Lawn, 40, March 2021
The Imposter Game
Here's the fight and the flight of it, the real and the imagined of it: there are two rooms and I am sitting in both of them pretending to be me at all times. The interrogator sits outside and asks me questions and I answer and I answer and they must guess which me is really me. I write my name on a piece of paper - written it is real, as are we; a unified me with my hair swept back and a bandaid plastered to my face
There's a pond outside my house, but mum says to stay away
Of course, the teeth scrape the skin; the teeth scrape the skin so the flesh rolls back, the air strikes the wound. Tender crab meat, it becomes stringy and soft and long. I put my leg in the pond. The skin is raw, or vibrant, and burning in subtle rage, flared-open and blooming, my legs dangling light.
Above Water Anthology, October 2020
Man wakes up with a pounding headache, not unlike the pounding of his old wife’s head against the damned wooden bedhead; he’s more regular in the sack than he is on the shitter and they’ve got the stains to prove it. Scuffs mark the wall where the board knocks; it’s her head against the timber; she’s the one always going, never coming, like a one-way battering ram.
Glitchwords, Issue 5, April 2021
Worms prefer loam based compost for the nutrients. I talk at length about green burials, how they are best for our bodies and the earth.
"If I Were a Black Widow This Would Be Fine"
Voiceworks, Issue 122: Reflex, April, 2021
I didn’t eat in the week after you died. After the cremation I couldn’t stand to use the oven. The heat radiated like the incinerator your dad kept in the backyard when you were a kid and all I could smell was the burning of you. You would never let me go a day without a meal, but you weren’t here to tell me otherwise. Instead, your parents filled the space of you, leaving two lasagnes a day by our house—my house—for weeks after the funeral. I think they forgot that only you ate meat. So I set out for a cross country journey to throw your ashes over Cape York.
"Inside Your Mind"
Not Deer Magazine, April 2021
The mark had left the wall, had risen and now was buzzing around the two women.
“It’s a fly.” Abbey followed it with her finger. “It's moved. There it is.”
Her lover followed Abbey's finger around, but found nothing by its end.
“There’s nothing there, Abs.”
But it was right there, dirty and hovering, so close now the sound grated against her cautious jaw, it scraped the innermost cavern of her ear canal.
"A Recluse in (Non)Isolation"
Blue Marble Review,
It would be logical for anyone to assume the restrictions of social isolation and the vast physical distance meant to be maintained between us would be a solace and a relief to my frail temperament. But in reality, I have never felt more trapped than I do now. When you and everyone you know are trapped at home, there is no excuse to keep boundaries. There is no excuse to put off working, to not attend your Zoom class meetings; no excuse to not want to talk, Skype, Netflix party, FaceTime, Houseparty, invite the world inside the one place you once felt at ease.
Unlearn Media, August 2020
Qualities and labels used to categorise people must subsequently be carefully employed, as while groupings such as gender, race, and sexuality provide individuals with classifications to unite and share collective pride, it’s fundamentally at the advantage of the oppressor that categories are institut-ed; allowing for the continuation of society's unequal power structure to further maintain an archaic hierarchical framework. As such, we in roles of privilege, without the burden of being mis-identified in day-to-day life due to our conformity with socially imposed expectations, must acknowledge the continued persecution that persists on account of the application of behavioural and phenotypically-led categorisations, in the form of white supremacist, patriarchal, and cis-dominated social orders which benefit from the divisive plight of culturally imposed categories.
"A Conversation between Helena Pantsis and Lily Bechtold"
Body Without Organs, December 2018
I think everything I create inevitably proves to connect in some way or another. I have this overwhelming desire to stray from the cliche (although this sometimes proves extremely difficult to do) and on account of this, along with my distaste for repetition, I often refer to old pieces in order to shape my current work. I expect this, on a subconscious level, acts to have the opposite effect on my writing as these underlying similarities become more apparent as a result.
"The World in Words with Helena Pantsis"
Aspirants Co., INFLUENCE issue, May 1
Pantsis has found something special in words—the ability to experience life in a different dimension.
She told Aspirants, "My inclination towards writing, viewing the world from beyond myself and seeing things for how they are, has really caused me to open myself up to being a far more empathetic and accepting person than I otherwise might've been."
This growth is evident in Pantsis' writing, especially in her piece, 'Floorboard afternoon and the hazy light of dawn.' Born from feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, it became one of her most hopeful works.
Of it, she said, "It follows this idea that the world and beyond are within my reach and I am so aware of this intensely encouraging influence from my family; while the relentless positivity can grate on me sometimes, I'm conscious of how lucky I am, and I am so eternally grateful for them."
"sorry" & "How the Dead are Revered" & "emotional" & "i think my grandma's going to die"
The Showbear Family Circus, July 2019
Jawbreaker Zine, Issue 001: FEMINASTY, July 2019
"Where womanhood is inconsequential"
Off Menu Press, Third Edition: Female Utopia, September 2019
"thisis(not)thewayidie" & "time stays. we go."
Twist In Time Magazine, September 2019
Weird Women Co., Issue 03: The Fool, April 2020
Juste Milieu, Issue 11: The Red Issue, June 2020
All My Friends Zine, Issue 4: Friends Forever, August 2020
"The Colonist's Guide"
The I In Politics: A Poetry Collection of Contemporary Voices, December 2020
"forestfire" & "Trill" & "Some Type of Warmth"
Renouveau Media, Issue 01, January 2021
"I’m Trying to Stretch My Stomach So Large That I Can Fit You Inside Me And I’ll Never Be Lonely Again" & "A bag of chicken bones that rattle in the wind" & "A BRANCH'S BURDEN"
Sunday Mornings at the River: Summer 2021, June 2021