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