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Hell-p Me

Little Grape Jelly

In 2016, Lily Ashley sent James Massiah and I an email; the subject line was ‘Hell-p me.’ We were three strangers about to build a virtual connection. We had only one thing to go on - we had to be honest. We wanted to create a safe place in the shaky thread of an email chain where we could reveal all, a place where three very different people with three very different voices could meet and offload through free verse and other poetic forms. In doing so we wanted to explore the limitations and benefits of communicating online. We didn't know what to expect. A year later, we're still emailing each other. We have lulls, times when we don't email each other back and times when we misunderstand each other but that's what living in a digital age is like. The collection Hell-p Me (published by Eyewear) is a collection of our poems from the start of the project in July 2016 to March 2017 in an unedited, email format true to our thread. It is a group diary of three people dealing with the ups and downs that life chucks at us. This extract is from the bleak month of February, following a performance at a London literary night. It intends to give the reader an insight into our three different worlds and the page on which they meet.

- Grace Pilkington


On 3 Feb 2017, at 14:20, Grace Pilkington wrote:

Adrenalin pumped
Through my tyred body, 
sugar curdled in my throat.
Like a petal on a fluffy cocktail, 
I'd like to drift and float, 
I'm not that light, 
But I do like, 
Avenues of faces 
Voices speaking 
Different tones, 
Different paces, 
And watching. 
The next day I feel deflated, 
I think, 
'God - writing is overrated'
It's like an ache that roams through 
My body, 
I can't not do it. 
I could never not do it. 
My fingers itch 
To eclipse white paper with ink, 
But in all this ink and all these words, 
There are only a few moments when it doesn't hurt,
When I'm addled with adrenaline and fixed on my face is a sick grin, 
Only a few moments when it feels completely right, 
And one of them was performing with you two last night. 

From: Lily Ashley
Sent: 07 February 2017 19:38
Subject: Re: Hell-p me


wasn't it great!wasn't it...
..I'm fine …i'm fine
…i lied the come down came quicker 
hit across the pitter patter screen 
around and over the steering wheel
curled around where i could feel 
the loneliness
and suck it up and out
my tears became a shout
the world tilted ajar 
hobbled past my shuddering car
and looked back and in
what pray within

paranoid and alone
i look to empty home strangers walk towards the door
i knew it, they've come back for more
they weren't happy with what they stole
they're coming back to catch my soul

my sweaty palm vibrates my phone
why am i always alone? alone alone in see through dress
with darting eyes, a batty mess
and through my fear leaps out a sound
so unhinged they turn around

oh what to do i'm in no state… …i realise its my house mate
and her boyfriend, there was a change of plan
they’re staying this side of town 
my shoulders drop my arms fly wide
i spring to them with bouncing stride
and in the kitchen they give advice
on i can't remember but it was nice
and I'm so happy to be with friends
i forget 
i forget 
i forget it ends



On 8 Feb 2017, at 12:04, James Massiah wrote:

And end it did 

another night alone 
My love
If only it weren't so 

Things must be the way they be
And if they change that's how they be

Edie saw me 

in peckham
my lady friend wants more
but i'm not qualified to give

Afraid that she will live alone
frustrated i won't lay
but we all know what they say 

too many lights in the bush 
spoil the broth of birds
when a stitch in time could
save nine lives because
it's bad luck when the mirror
breaks seven times
under a ladder on the day 
of the dead if it's the 13th
when love is the root of all evil
money is the answer to
be or not to bother me
because it's tough at the bottom 
of the topsy turvy world 
that makes it go round
Or some words to that effect
Whatever it was
I can't wait to see you next