Eva Ulian 

Words and Pictures of the Mind


Poems, like virtue do not draw the crowds, but I write them all the same without expecting anyone to read them.

List of Poems

1. It was the time of apples ripening on trees

2. In the Stillness of the Night

3. Coffee Break

4. The Handbag

5. Saturday Morning

1. It was the time of apples ripening on trees

It was the time of apples

ripening on trees,

and leaves changing to a deeper green,

when shadows drew their full lengths

across the August paths:

there was a subdued change

upon the fiery sun

that heralded September,

and in my soul there was a void,

I missed someone.

The rosy petals lying limp

upon the dying thorns:

the streams gasped in thirst

upon their dusty beds,

the birth of spring was dead

and counted days came to an end,

and through my mind

there passed a thought

a deaf remembrance.

© Eva Ulian September 1972

2.  In the Stillness of the Night

When they are gone

And sleeps sets in the night;

When the last footsteps echo on the path

And the final clatter of the gate;

When the half-lit room is now subdued

And quietness creeps

Through every book upon

The silent shelf;

When the curtains drape

The mirrowing glass;

When the smiles and laughter

No longer shake

The cluttered walls

But silence glistens in the night

I watch you lie your head

Upon the covers of your chair,

Half asleep, half in dream,

And being conscious of a heart

 Beating in the room

                I marvel...

For in the stillness of the night

                I hear

An echo reply.


©Eva Ulian September 1972

3.  Coffee Break 

Sitting in coffee bars

Among steaming cups

That are strangers,

And the crusts left behind

Drying hard on the

White plates.

One or two persons

Linger in corners,

A strange face or two

Appear behind a wall,

And the lady with her

Dyed blond hair

Chatters behind

The counter.

She smiles once or twice

As the long queue passes by…

And I cast my eyes to the floor

Littered with bus tickets

And half-lit cigarette ends

And spilt coffee stains

And silence draws a step


There is no silence here

Except in my mind,

That throbs and aches

And whines like a hungry

Child waiting to be fed,

Innocent but demanding

Grasping the soft, swollen breast.

There are noises and

Familiar screeches of tyres

And brakes and well

Dressed ladies opening

Their bright orange lips

In endless, meaningless chatter.

Or a group of

Young people all clamouring

Together noisily, clinging

To one another, dependent

Like drowning people in a

Panic, gripping

Each other, a

Splintered raft, afraid

Of sinking…

And the day slips

Away from its bitter

Awakening, rude and

Loud, and fades

Dying in shame.

©Eva Ulian 1972

4.  The Handbag    Transmitted by BBC Radio 4 Leeds "Northern Drift" 1974

Handbags are such awkward things

I’ve always hated them ever since I was a child.

I’d disown them, lose them, do anything

Rather than carry one around.

But as I grew older

And was referred to as that “lady”

Pockets weren’t big enough

To carry all my things around

So I compromised,

And got one with a strap

Long enough to hang from my shoulder.

At first it was just the little things;

A notebook and a pen

To scratch down the odd thought,

Cigarettes and matches, I couldn’t do without,

A handkerchief, my black-rimmed glasses

In case I lost my contact lenses...

But that was all, I promised that was all-

Oh yes, a little diary, and that was really all.

I emptied my bag the other day

During some lecture on psychology

And how did I accumulate such things?

Chocolate fragments mixed with dust,

A comb with a few missing teeth,

A compact and I’d never worn make-up...

Ah, I know why I put it there,

Contact lenses, now and then slip off centre-

A notebook, a cashbook

To keep me entertained,

A bank book, my expenditure complains.

Two packets of cigarettes?

Must be a tough day.

An address book, addresses of people

Who are no longer there:

Appointment cards,

A bunch of keys,

Keys that no longer open anything.

Pick me up pills for off days-

A union card, pencils,

All sorts of identifications

To prove that I exist or who I am

Even a passport- I’m an alien you see.

Cigarette coupons I’ve forgot to empty out,

A faded, pinky parish news letter


A black purse with a few loose coins

And a Scottish pound note I got

From my Scottish landlady for doing

The hoovering-

Loose hairgrips scattered about

In the corners and crevices of the leather,

Mint papers and half chewed chewing gum,

A loose shilling for the Sunday collection-

A golden mint, a pen knife,

An old letter from a friend

Saying he’d come

But never did...

I really must tip out and

Throw away all other things,

But that letter-

I’ll let the hope linger still,

Pensive, tranquil,

Growing musty in my bag.

© Eva Ulian 1972

5.  Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning dirty and bleak,

Raindrops weeping like a stream,

Dusty tears in blotted streets,

Newspapers dripping in their stands…

Memories hanging like a crucifix,

Thoughts entwining like a string-

You were gone

And I stood on the railway

Taking me to a place that is not home.

Clouds of dreams in the misty morning,

Apprehensions rising like the skies,

The cruel train waited on the platform,

Whistles puncturing the blistered mind.

I watched the misery of raindrops

Streaming down the glass,

Saw reflections burning in the past

Whispers of “My Love, God bless…”

And the train dragged on away,

Into the Saturday.

©Eva Ulian 1974