Stopping Breathing

You don’t hear a song for 20 odd years and then twice in a week. It’s a good job because this one really stings and makes me hold my breath for too long. It’s a great song, too: Talk Talk’s ‘I Believe in You’ from ‘Spirit of Eden’ 1988. One of my favourites, once.

Death happens. People come and go.

This one’s about Daniel. Clever, tormented, angry, witty, bewitching Daniel.

It’s nameless, as yet (but I bet Juliet can think of something?)


Packed up.

Wrapped up neatly, safely in a box

in nice paper.

Small and hidden away

and not for thinking.


But some things rip off the sellotape

and I can’t contain the heat of it.

It enters my chest, compresses lung against lung

and brings a silent scream

that feels like my scalp is gone.


A song.

Standing at the sink gutting fish for supper

hands bloodied and foiled with sequin scales.


Then speeding pictures

like eye-reflections flickering in the window of a fast train.

Yellow haired, smooth skinned boy.

The boy who took my hand in the cool zinc light of an August dawn

in a garden.

The boy who hangs in my head

in a breeze block student cell

feet scrabbling for safety,

fingers grabbing nothing,

eyes wide,

neck broken.

Somewhere in North London.


I can’t see.

Wrap up the bones, the guts,

the box.


(Tom Waits’s ‘Grapefruit Moon’ is a good salve….)


Filed under poems, poetry, writing

6 responses to “Stopping Breathing

  1. I think you have your title already in the blog post.

    Amazingly powerful. Made me stop breathing.

  2. Not average poetry, especially this one. Absolutely searing imagery. Nicely done in its poignancy.

    • Thank you cricketmuse! Lovely to hear from you. I’ve been distracted by gardens and my poetry brain hasn’t been switched on much recently so your compliment is very happily received!

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