They tumble from slack lips like
Falling hair from wearied roots,
Free from (but because of) life.

Calm breathing is eclipsed by
In-and-out, back-and-forth, their seaish
Murmur swallows weaker air-tide.

They are the escape of something small that has died.
They are questions without answers:
What sort of a person am I?

Why am I sad, why can’t I cry?
Why have people always lied?
Why must all things die?

An existential drip that never runs dry.
And if you try and stop
The sky-falling rain that steeps your scalp

And hold them fast, like untethered balloons,
They will blow themselves to zeppelin
And burst you inside out.

And if you try and retch them whole
In a tar-slick thick goop-chain roll of
Ache, the world will spoon it back.

The remembered rhythm only can be –
In, out, yes, no, up, down, white, black,
Back, forth, breathe, soothe, low, high,

Sigh, die
(inside), (nowhere to)
Hide, see.

After Claudia Rankine

Harry Jenkins is a KS5 winner of the Forward Young Responses 2015-16

The Hospital

is not as packed as you see in films
with maybe one or two children in the ICU at a time
I don’t understand how you can have a phobia of hospitals
it’s mostly just a couple of rooms with some beds in
I didn’t know the doctor’s name but she seemed
pretty friendly at first, you know, she had a kind face
the TV was a good distraction
I didn’t want to look straight in her eyes

after Karen McCarthy Woolf



Susmita Chaudhury is the KS3 winner of the Forward Young Responses 2015-16

Papers Please

A salesman in stance.
He stalks between,
the shining cloth, the ironed sheets.
He offers a chalice of pens.
Two shillings apiece.

Like gauze the sheets fall,
One, two, ten.
Scattering, like so many butterfly wings
Beige, grey. Never white.
Still tied with unravelling string

White is for the postmaster,
secretary, clerk.
Taking on important ink, from notable nibs.
Shorthand spirals,
Inked keels and ribs.

Grey remains. Flitting between the stacks.
Plucked insects
Primed for the recording of dreams.
So he begins.

After Jean Follain

Mia Mouron-Adams is the KS4 winner of the Forward Young Responses 2015-16