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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Felix in Free Fall

The Man Who Fell to Earth

We have been falling all our lives.
When we first learn to walk
Our parents cheer the walking but for us
The suddenness of falling is the prize.

We earn degrees in falling
Learn to dredge success from every fault
We are the much-praised generation
We know the power in the fall.

We fall into everything
Falling forward into steep-climb futures
Falling backwards when emotion pushes
When memory drags us down.

The years are falling from us
Thoughts we clung to are so many leaves
Our lives are autumn and the branches
Sketch their meaning on a purple sky.

Not long ago we saw the people falling
Turning from the firewall at their backs
Tonight a man stands up, a resurrection
After the farthest fall from the highest point.

©  Helena Nolan

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier

Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. She is the 2011 winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award.


Austrian Baumgarten,
spinning and thinking of
strawberry jam;

falling from space like an
home to a hug and a
smack from his mam.

© Anthony Baverstock

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner's out-of-control spin

Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty. 


  1. Two wonderful takes on one story!

    I love the contained momentum and humour of Anthony's piece but Helena's is the one that really resonates for me, spinning one man's journey into a metaphor for all our lives - even raising the spectre of the 'Falling Man' from 9/11, without sentimentality. I just want to read it over and over and enjoy the complexity.

  2. Yes agree - one subject, two very different takes. Anthony's could be a modern-day nursery rhyme while Helena's celebration of the fall (and the survival from it) is spot on.

  3. Happy to read these poetic bites at something that moved me very much. I love the rhythms in Helena's. Anthony's has more of the tumbling fall about it, but I like that in it too!

  4. Thank you for the comments. I’m glad ‘Grounded’ raised a smile – although the ‘fall’ from the heights of Helena’s serious poetry to this lowly, humorous verse was indeed dizzying!