Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Seven





The Children’s Heart Federation is launching a new national information campaign directed towards parents and medical professionals. The Think HEART campaign aims to empower and inform parents, as well as better educate medical professionals about the key early signs of a possible heart problem in children. Think HEART provides parents with five easy to spot signs to help identify if their child may have a heart problem and it gives them the confidence to raise the issue with their doctor or a health professional. Heart problems go undiagnosed in far too many children and Think HEART will increase early diagnosis and help to save children’s lives. To see what you can do to help, click here.


Squeezed Out
by Rosie Sandler

You’re primed for that final dive
towards the light; but my heart

is misbehaving – racing yours
in misplaced sympathy.

We move from home
to hospital:

“Blue light,” says the midwife,
“Blue light, please.”

And it’s only afterwards
I understand I could have died:

that my body, primed to push,
could have pushed too hard:

my heart bursting into her hands
with the eagerness of birth.

Would she have caught it,
wrapped it in a blanket,

handed it to your father
to take home – your cot-twin,

wheezing its leaky refrain
to your new breaths?

Rosie Sandler’s poems have been published in, among others: The Poetry of Sex, ed. Sophie Hannah, Penguin, 2014, The Rialto, London Grip, Lighthouse Journal, the 2013 Essex Poetry Festival anthology From the City to the Saltings, and Bugged: Writings from Overhearings, ed. Jo Bell and David Calcutt. She will be reading at the 2014 Essex Poetry Festival (http://www.essex-poetry-festival.co.uk/prog.html) and she hosts a blog for poets at: http://thepoetsresource.wordpress.com/


by John Siddique

There is a red line extending through
a past from my heart all the way back through
a series of cut out paper shapes,
images of my father, his large presence
when I am a small boy, the gaps in between
his returns after my parents’ split,
the moments of each of his reappearances.

The red line has been covered in leaves,
covered in footprints, forgotten from the map.
I have driven other roads, taken different trains,
eavesdropping conversations, holding on
to love so tightly in the absence of the line.

It lay untraced for thirty years, there but unseen,
present but not spoken about, walkable
in the space of heartbeats once rediscovered.

His large presence when I am a small boy.
The man of now wanting his father’s love.
The gaps between his returns, when I am full
of other stories so that I don’t need him.
The moments between each returning,
when in his losing his grip on his family
he tried over and again to demonstrate his love.

There is a red line extending from
my father’s heart to my heart. I have swept
the leaves and cleared the dirt from it.
The grown man can love his loves, kiss rather
than fear loss, pull tension into the bow of love,
launching arrows tied with red streamers
into the very sky

(First published in RECITAL – An Almanac, John Siddique, Salt, 2009)

John Siddique is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Full Blood. His work has featured in many places, including Granta, The Guardian, Poetry Review and BBC RADIO 4. The Spectator refers to him as ‘A stellar British poet.’ The Times of India calls him ‘Rebellious by nature, pure at heart.’ John is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and is the current Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York St. John University. Website: www.johnsiddique.co.uk  Twitter: @johnsiddique


Wish Lists
by Philip Hancock

Moon face with pig eyes,
copper tuft, striped pyjamas,
came shrieking, shaking
the chain link fencing
of the end house, jump-started
our hearts, made us run.

One sticky afternoon,
must have been his dad
sat on the stoop, sleeves rolled up,
a tattoo, scalp showing
through his grey. The quiet
before the school bus with the ramp.

Toys scattering the yard
always too dear for us:
Captain Scarlet’s patrol car
in bronze, mighty Tonkas,
a David Brown pedal tractor.
Maybe next Christmas.

Likely he’d be no different,
ticking them in the catalogue,
outside Playlands kicking up a fuss.
Lie for ages on his belly
on the wonky concrete flags,
inventing engine noises.

Philip Hancock’s pamphlet Hearing Ourselves Think (Smiths Knoll 2009) was a Guardian Books of the Year 2010. Further work featured in OxfordPoets 2010 (Carcanet), and more recent poems in Areté, New Statesman, and Spectator. More about Philip and more poems here.


by Wendy French

A newly dug grave covered in fresh flowers –
the ground takes time to settle –
the roses need to be replaced.
There’s something bewildering about a wilting heart.
A woman in Jersey rises at dawn to attend
to her greenhouses. The florist who chooses,
cuts, displays each flower, weaves her wreaths to order.
Colours straight from a child’s paint box.
The turning of the lock, the opening of a front door.
Nails perfectly manicured, pale, mauve,
against the whiteness of a woman’s face.
Roses in the blue ceramic bowl.
This mother runs after the coffin,
believes that the moment, this moment has stopped,
has ceased to be. We wear the same colour jumper,
pale pink of the Albertine – the rose that climbs my fence.
There’s another place far from here where she calls
Rosie, Cariad, and a child runs out of school, head down,
not understanding the colour of her name – oblivious
to everything except a mother calling.
Blue-black cherries that glisten in the bowl –
stones discarded having forced herself to eat, waiting
for the moon to sink and set against a darkening light.
She takes herself to a seaside town to hear some Brahms.
This is not a place to visit in the dark,
The gull flies through night, red valerian blows on cliffs.
And at the sea-front, the waves upside down
don’t know which way to hit the shore.

(First published in Born in the NHS, by Wendy French and Jane Kirwan, Hippocrates Press, 2013

Wendy French has published several volumes of poetry and won first prize in The Hippocrates Poetry Prize in 2010, NHS category. She is currently Poet in Residence at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre. Find out more here: http://wendyfrench.co.uk Twitter: @WendyFrench6

Ketchup Hearts
by Natalya Anderson

Our weekend place was called The Goof, because a portion
of Good Food had flickered out years before

At hushed diner booths French fries drew ketchup
hearts. Hot pecan tarts made cream puddles. In whispers

were mysteries of clasped arms, swinging through flakes
of snow. Flurries leavened heavy bellies, so we shuffled, slipped

to buy bars of marshmallow dreams, scalding them
down with frothing cups while I clutched at your coat

Natalya Anderson is a writer and former ballet dancer from Toronto, Canada. She was wooed by an Irish man from south Dublin, so they set-up shop in England as neutral territory to make a baby son and live life as a mishmash. She completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and a Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Website: www.natalyaanderson.com Twitter: @AndersonNatalya


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


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