Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Two


Congenital heart disease is a term which covers any heart abnormality present from birth. One in every 133 babies in the UK is born with a heart condition, over 5,000 babies per year.
Acquired heart defect is a term which covers a heart abnormality that develops after a baby is born. An estimated 500 -1000 children each year develop heart conditions after they are born.
Improvements in paediatric heart surgery and clinical care have led to more children with heart conditions surviving into adulthood. The number of adults with heart conditions is now increasing at an estimated rate of 5% per year. (Source: www.chfed.org.uk)


What Would You Say?
by John Harvey

What would you say of a man who can play
three instruments at once – saxophone,
manzello and stritch – but who can neither
tie his shoelace nor button his fly?

Who stumbles through basements,
fumbles open lacquered boxes,
a child’s set of drawers,
strews their contents across bare boards –
seeds, vestments, rabbit paws?

Whose favourite words are vertiginous,
gourd, dilate? Whose fantasy is snow?
Who can trace in the dirt the articular process
of the spine, the pulmonary action of the heart?

Would you say he was blind?

Would you say he was missing you?

(from ‘Out of Silence: New & Selected Poems, Smith/Doorstop, May, 2014)

Poet, dramatist, publisher and occasional broadcaster, John Harvey’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages, the first of his twelve Charlie Resnick novels, Lonely Hearts, being named by The Times as one of the ‘100 Best Crime Novels of the Century’; the most recent, and final novel in the series, ‘Darkness, Darkness’, will be published this May. Website: www.mellotone.co.uk  Blog: http://mellotone70up.wordpress.com  Twitter: @John_BHarvey


by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

This machine              listens to me.

In my pulse,                            it hears                        the mysterious melodies

of valves and vessels

closing and opening              in symphony.


By some unseen alchemy,

it deciphers                             these cyphers


messages         along coiled cables     and      long  leads      to where

a needle          scrapes                        a scribbled script


and falling

in spiked ink scrawl.




the needle’s crawl

as my heart, my broken muscle                    scratches         dispatches of despair.

Electrocardiogram.    Telegram.


The cardiologist approaches             (white coat, stitched brow, stethoscope)

unrolls the scroll

nods                            peers at the pointed peaks, the low valleys

contemplates and translates

this undeniable diary of days

this most recent history of my heart.


I am                             caught between recollection  and     premonition


both the blade            that cut           my cord          and     the surgeon’s scalpel

hurtling toward me


my history and future                        unfold                         from this machine


(first published The Stinging Fly, Winter 2013)

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet based in Ireland, writing both in Irish and in English. Her Irish language collections Résheoid and Dúlasair  are both published by Coiscéim, and her bilingual chapbook A Hummingbird, Your Heart  is available as a free download from Smithereens Press. The Arts Council of Ireland has twice awarded her bursaries in literature. Doireann was the winner of a Wigtown Award (Scotland) in 2012 and in 2013 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize (USA). www.doireannnighriofa.com  Twitter: @DoireannNiG


Stephen Lawrence isn’t on the National Curriculum
by Josephine Corcoran

I tuck you in
with long ago & far away,
pull the blanket of it wasn’t us, it wasn’t
here, around your heart although I know
that five inches is 13 centimetres,
that 130 yards would cost a lot
of blood. There’ll be Rosa Parks
& Martin Luther King for homework,
there always is & someone saying it’s good
we teach them that,
but no-one has a map of south east London,
today your teacher didn’t say his name.
I teach you this: he spelled it with a ‘PH’
not a ‘V’, in 1993
he was eighteen,
he wanted to be an architect,
he was waiting for a bus.

(previously published in The Morning Star)

Josephine Corcoran works part-time for The Reader Organisation in Wiltshire. She runs the ‘And Other Poems’ poetry blog: www.andotherpoems.wordpress.com Twitter @And_OtherPoems She has a pamphlet forthcoming with Tall-Lighthouse later this year.


by Kaddy Benyon

Held on the map of my palm
I have a sense of a different ending.
Each threaded vein of it reaching
beyond the pebble’s edge
connects to the carved pink leys
and channels of my skin. Here –
a heartline not stopping at loss,

but breaking free to ramble now
in search of finer trails: scents, traces
of life unsevered by my other hand.
There – a new passage overlays
a violet twist of hate and shame, wipes
out a fatal double-helix long enough
to let your gift’s bright tributaries

reroute the past and navigate a
continent of trust. My heart’s needle
shivers and spins, settling for
a true north where this wander lust
must begin, must end, each new
territory crossed taking me further
from your touchstone: closer to myself.

Kaddy Benyon was born in Cambridge and worked as a television scriptwriter for a number of years. In 2010 she was shortlisted for the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize. She won the Crashaw Prize 2011 with her debut collection, Milk Fever. In 2012 she was named a Granta New Poet. She is currently Invited Poet at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge where she is writing her second collection. Twitter: @KaddyBenyon


by Anthony Wilson

Let me invade your heart.

Let me into your hurt

and heal where no one sees.

I place a kiss, here, on your eyes.


(Let me invade your hurt).

Let me infect where it tears

at you, unseen, in the heart.

Let me dry your eyes.


Let me in. (Your hurt

might burst and invade the world).

I cradle it, as a baby

crying out in the dark.


Let me. I come as a child

comes, with open hands,

into your dark. To hurt me,

let me invade your heart.

Anthony Wilson is a poet, blogger and researcher. His most recent books are Riddance (Worple, 2012) and Love for Now (Impress Books, 2012), a memoir of cancer. Love for Now  is available here He lives and works in Exeter. He can be found online at www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com Twitter: @awilsonpoet


(All poets have given permission for their poems to be included on this site)






2 thoughts on “Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Two

  1. Pingback: A new poem, for Children’s Heart Week | Anthony Wilson

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