Blink Once For Yes – Jane Burn

I am glad to hear their music – rejoice that they are not afraid to sing.

Jane Burn is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominated poet. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including The Rialto, Under The Radar, Iota Poetry and previous issues of Butcher’s Dog. Her work has also been included in anthologies from Seren, Smokestack, Fairacre Press and Emma Press. Her most recent successes include placing/shortlisting in The Wirral Festival, The Lord Whisky Sanctuary, Segora International and Yorkmix 2019 poetry competitions. She is associate editor at Culture Matters Press and is looking forward this year to the publication of her eighth book.  

Blink once for yes                                                                                             

The geese are returning. Winter through, I have waited 
to hear the discord of their song. They are the foundation 
of my days – each morning the thread of their flight 
is pulled across my eyes. Each night shuttles them back. 
I feel re-woven. I crave the sight of their bodies, plump

against a thin sky. When I see them, the creases of me settle, 
re-find their folds. I have missed them – hankered for the length 
of their throats. Goose Girl, watching her flock descending, 
splash of white upon their chins, feathers following the spring. 
I hook my fingers through my breeze-snarled crop –

no tumbled locks to offer them, no Conrad to ask 
for the strands. I am glad to hear their music – rejoice 
that they are not afraid to sing. New growth has broken 
the cold earth – the ice-melt has drained. It’s looking less
as if an apocalypse visited wrath on the land. The pyres

of deadwood, stacked by floods still lurk like trolls – 
wild garlic tongues their feet and soon, leaves will soothe 
the jagged gaps. The geese keep to the opposite side
of the river, safe from the road, spending time squabbling
over turf, renewing their vows, making their love. 

Their cacophony travels across in needles and pins, 
in rips and rends. Lir’s children glide past in quietdignity, 
hiss at the busy delight of Goosetown’s messy nests, 
turn their nostrils away from its paddled stink and raucous din. 
This is no place for angels. The geese will sit on chalky eggs, 

wait for hairline cracks, for the hatching of yellow goslings, 
tender as heartbreak, light as breath. They stitch their minds 
to their mothers, follow down the bank to ride theslipstream
as the water slips a V-shaped wave from her breast.
I’ll ask, next time their long-span opens overhead.

Are you glad to see me too? Blink once for yes. 
They mate for life, so ought to understand my faithful wait. 
When I found some snow-bleached bones, littered stiff
among a pair of wasted wings I said a prayer for them. 
Did you miss me? Blink twice for no.

Jane Burn, Consett, County Durham

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

A Brush With Death, A Gust of Life – Abigail Chetham

distant planets writhed without reason

Many thanks to Abigail Chetham for her entry and support of our project. Abigail is a passionate poet and ‘she is inspired by darkness, light, tragedy, the romantic era, and the age of concrete and plastic.’ Her voice is her own as she writes of her own demons and deaths, angels and hopes, which come in many forms throughout her poetry.

A Brush With Death, A Gust of Life


a child wanders in the distance

And greets me with a name I once recognised

All i saw was anguish reflected

As I looked into its eyes


a city that once burned,

left its power in its dust

stared back through the heavy air

Of the forest of the dead at dusk


but silent promises wept

for they shattered at the break of dawn

but still one hope was kept

for their soul hadn’t been out-torn

its gaze grasped at my breath

its eyes tugged at my lungs

I could wonder how it is we met

when the harps had been unstrung


distant planets writhed without reason

And the song was sang to signal day

I let out one final tear, exhaled

As the child walked away


i had held that breath for just one moment As i lay down my heavy load

and it sank into the forest

Into the crypt which lay below

As i retreat i am reminded

of the way a forest does grow

a seed lingers in the darkness

An unconquerable city is sown
at last on the edge of silence

I find myself sink into new light

much like the crypt yet full of life

forever separate yet intertwined

Abigail Chetham, 18

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

Still Life – Holly Milne

I felt you hanging me on your wall

Still Life

I closed my eyes
And I felt myself drifting
lazily downward, 
the product of bottom-shelf vodka.

Your beard scratched at my face
hands smoothing my hair. 
‘you look like a painting’

I tried to focus
staring at the outdated wallpaper.
I imagined peeling it back,
exposing the rough wall underneath.

I dreamt of being trapped
a girl sat behind glass.
Stuck in one attitude
smiling blandly out
my wide eyes staring at one spot.

I saw you gazing at me
your wedged nose
cracked lips
creased forehead
writing your rambling short stories
about spaghetti and talking dogs.

I felt you hanging me on your wall
talking to me about your day.
Coming home smelling of Jamesons, 
reading Ulysses while commenting on its ‘extensive lexicon’.

‘you look pretty when you sleep’
I smiled as sweetly as I could
listening to your stories about stoners called Jaffa.

The chemical taste of vodka
lingered in my tense little mouth.
My skin felt like canvas
I wanted to peel it away.

Holly Milne

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

Goodbye – Freya Turton

We did not know what to do with this black day

My name is Freya Turton, and I’d like to submit an original poem into the “Voices” competition. I’m fourteen years old and have always loved reading and writing, but have only recently found a new passion for poetry.

Goodbye

Twenty-four hours of darkness passed

As the sombre sun decided at last

That his rays were not as bright, as vast

As they once had cast

He took it upon himself to not ask

Whether we wanted nor needed to bask

He tried to hide, he tried to mask

And at last, he completed his task

We humans

We withered away

We did not know what to do with this black day

Some tried to carry on

Some did

And some were far gone

It was the hopers

Who hung and clung

Onto the new morning sun

To remind them of what was to come

And to which the morning birds sung

It was the hopers

Who went first

The just-couldn’t-copers;

They were left unquenched of their thirst

It was the families

Who looked forward

To cozy nights indoors

Who gave the kids rewards

Every time they managed and scored

It was the families 

Who tried

for their daughters and sons

But once the little ones died

The parents— 

They let down their lungs

It was the teenagers

So careless and free

Whose brains were not yet developed enough to see

Or to understand the fee

It was the teenagers

Who had to take responsibility;

Drew war paint across their faces and fought

Who dug themselves up into war

And survived through the impossibility

But now that was history

And the Earth was choked on mystery

For the sun had died

There was no light

And the world was devoid of simplicity

Despite the extinction of humanity.

Freya Turton

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

The Guilt of a Mother – Michelle Fitzgerald

The tears began to drown me

I would like to share a piece with you as I feel that some other woman or even men who have been through the same, may be able to relate and realise they’re not alone in their feelings. This along with a few others I have written, are done so from my perspective.

Thank you for your submission Michelle – we appreciate this.

The Guilt of a Mother


The guilt of a mother

Whose baby was not meant to be

Is a feeling indescribable

a feeling felt by me


I labelled myself a failure

The anger raged through my soul

How could I let this happen

How come I didn’t know


The tears began to drown me

My thoughts ate through my bones

Gnawing away at me

Looking for answers still unknown


Maybe if I had better posture

Or lost a bit of weight

What if I hadn’t have worked that shift

Would the result still be the same


The day that I lost you

Haunts me all the same

I’m a failure as a mother

I flushed you away


No burial or memorial

No goodbye or I love you dear

No little pot of ashes for me to hold and

Keep you near


The guilt runs through me

I feel it in my veins

Like little pulses of electric

Reminding me of that day


I shall never forget you

And love you forever more

I’m sorry I wasn’t a good enough mother

To grow you until you were born.


As you’re due date approaches

The pain burns me through to my soul

My little precious bundle

I’ll never have to hold

Michelle Fitzgerald

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

To My Mother – Radina Kimonova

I am writing this poem for you, to tell you I am here

Radina Kimonova likes to write poetry and non-fiction stories in her free time. She thinks that writing is like therapy for the soul. Thank you Radina for your entry.

To My Mother

A story untold to the world,

About illness, about pain, about you.

For so long you have suffered in silence.

For so long you have tried to hide the truth.

But it is no joke, it is a demon that takes away your freedom,

It damages your heart, step-by-step,

it is so evil.

Some people are born with it,

and some people never experience pain at all.

600 000 people in the UK suffer from it,

yet you still feel so alone.

I am writing this poem for you, to tell you I am here.

And even if I am sometimes impatient,

I love you, and I will never leave.

You only have one mother in this world,

For better or for worse,

Please mum fight with me, my dear,

fight with me, until you are grey and old.

Radina Kimonova

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

Protection – Luke Moran

I don’t have to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

Luke Moran was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 15 and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He is from Kent where he lives with his wife and two step-children. We really appreciate his kind support and entry. Thanks Luke!

Protection

Every summer I use

factor 50 sunscreen

This is because I am:

more susceptible to secondary cancers

within the radiation field.

This radiation field is not somewhere

Flash Gordon or Doctor Who would

fight against Ming the Merciless

or outwit the Daleks

It’s just my neck and chest.

The bits that were bombarded with ionised radiation,

as if they were Arboria or Skaro.

The problem wasn’t 

the purple death sent down from space

a mysterious sphere stealing people’s minds

the moon falling out of orbit and crashing into earth

or people being replaced by shape shifting zygons

The problem was cancer

– Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – 

in glands in my neck and under my arm.

So my radiation field

is not something I have to ride across on a stolen Hawkman rocket cycle,

I don’t have to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,

use transdimensional engineering

or even fight any evil alien oppressors;

not with swords or with lasers,

or a whip

to the death

on a platform

tilting over open space and covered in spikes.

I just use

factor 50 sunscreen.

Luke Moran, Kent

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.