Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Four


Rebecca Goss writes: Within hours of my daughter Ella’s admission to Alder Hey Children’s Hopsital in 2007, we were introduced to Gill, our paediatric cardiac liaison nurse (PCLN). I had never heard of such a role within a hospital before, but soon realised how vital that role was. Gill was there to answer any questions we had about our daughter’s condition, explain hospital procedures and give practical advice.  The emotional support she provided to me, my husband and my extended family was invaluable too. 

I’m still in touch with Gill, years after Ella’s death and I asked her how she would describe the role of PCLN, (or Cardiac Nurse Specialist as they’re now more commonly known) in the world of cardiac care: ‘ We provide support, information and ensure you understand that information. We are a lynchpin between the family and the cardiologist. We are a resource of specialist information for the wider health and education community, particularly for health visitors, community nurses and teachers.  I think I have an amazing job. To be able to sit down with a new family, an older child, a teacher who will be terrified/devastated/completely in the dark and by the end to have been able to reduce that fear, answer those questions is so incredible that sometimes I forget how powerful just sitting down and talking can be.’ 

See the British Heart Foundation website for more:  http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/treatment/healthcare-professionals/paediatric-and-guch-nurses.aspx



by Lucy Burnett

(from the cumbric word
‘pen’ meaning hill or head)

i did not dream
euphoria of hillsong
failing nothing but

if the heart might
stop a moment
like a photograph:

my questions wore
the hillside
from the poem
and this pulse of pen

a hill a head

a gravity eroding
moments like

if my failures
were a kind of memory
i put my heart into

Lucy Burnett was born in South West Scotland but over recent years has made a home in the north of England. Her first poetry collection, Leaf Graffiti, was published by Northern House/Carcanet Press in 2013. ‘Pendle’ is taken from a pamphlet she is currently writing for Knives Forks & Spoons Press – due out in late 2014. Lucy has taught creative writing at the Universities of Salford and Strathclyde; she is currently Centre Director of Arvon Lumb Bank. Twitter @LucyBurnett14


by Eve Lacey

A flutter on the cardiogram, where the heart could not keep time.
Curious – a syncopated judder – in a body grown full size:

I took each breath like the first. It was not entirely adult
the compulsion to rehearse a mechanism just as natural

as rainfall to the quaking earth. To undergo full body shudder
with the weight of every breath, I had misconstrued the curse –

the Sisyphus link of lungs to heart, the cogs and gore of the work.
Life, said the nurse, should be took as a matter of course:

most will grow to withstand the shock of the pump
or the echo of blood that returns to its source.

Eve Lacey is Poetry Editor at For Books’ Sake and a judge for the Commonwealth Book Prize. Her work has been published in The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood and longlisted for the Hot Key Young Writers Prize. Furies, an anthology of contemporary women’s poetry, is forthcoming this autumn. Twitter @eve_lacey


The Heart at Ten to Six
by Mike Barlow

A borrowed house of light,
junkshop mirrors on the walls
and an old clock’s engine by the door –
intricate and beautiful,
but only true at ten to six.

Out here we never listen to The News.
Talk like that just baffles us.
With dumbstruck shrugs we turn back
to the view, register some minute change,
like a shift in the way light hits the sea
or a red yacht on a different tack.

Night-roaming beasts leave hoofprints
by the shore. I sleep well, dreaming
their obsidian stare, the pop
of bladderwrack, then wake
to the tricks of twilight mirrors play.

The bed sags where our bodies touch.
The chairs doze in their covers.
The stove says nothing.
The view that changes by the hour
will be the same each morning.
And when we tap the glass
the needle will be rising.

Mike Barlow won first prize in the 2006 National Poetry Competition and has published several volumes of poetry.  His most recent collection is Charmed Lives (Smith/Doorstop 2012) www.mikebarlow.org.uk


My Heart
by Sarah James

I tried to find it once, drew
a paper shape like a dog rose petal,
pink and unthorned.

My head nested in his chest,
I heard his steady tonal note.
Still, my pulse spat apple pips,

shat bird seeds, a febrile blip
on flat screen.                 Everything false-paced
by this thing I have not seen.

Hand rested on my breast bone,
I imagine flesh cleaved, then a muscle fist
slabbed raw on meat counter…

The deepening disappointment
that it will not sound braver, louder, longer
before its fragile song fades.

Sarah James’s latest collection is Be[yond] (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2013). Her first collection, Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press, 2010), won third prize in the International Rubery Book Awards 2011. Sarah’s website and blog is at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk . Twitter: @Sarah_James


Dear Heart
by Peter Kennedy

Ah, dear heart, these fifty years
on each St Valentine’s you’ve found
at breakfast time, or with your morning tea,

a simple heart shape, red, unsigned
but that’s no matter. For my dear
you know it comes from me.

When Peter Kennedy retired from his medical work he found a new life in poetry, and is a founder member and now administrator of the poetry organisation poetrywivenhoe: http://poetrywivenhoe.org/


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



3 thoughts on “Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Four

  1. Reblogged this on Jayne Stanton POETRY and commented:
    I’m re-blogging today’s Heart Poems in thanks for world pioneering heart research, a five-day-old’s life-saving open heart surgery at J G Stijdom in Johannesburg, South Africa, a four-year-old’s angioplasty at Leicester’s (former) Groby Road hospital and excellent ongoing cardiac care at Glenfield hospital,Leicester. Our ‘coarc baby’ celebrates his 29th birthday today

  2. Pingback: Music, Heart Poems & Sudden Rainfall

  3. Pingback: Sunshine, Poetry & New Projects

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