DAY FIFTY-ONE – Jacqueline Saphra

Chinese Whispers

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King Jr.

The hunt is on: through ashes, photographs, live feeds
and lists, through bone and prayer, through violations,

viral signs and rifts, through childrens’ calls,
fathers’ bullets, mothers’ wails. Voice is hiding

somewhere in the craters. Water’s on the tilt to wet
the throat; the jaw’s hinge works, the tongue still wags, and yet,

always nearby and nowhere, trapped between the guts
and utterance, Voice won’t comment or commit.

This pain is just a game of Chinese Whispers, Oh
my cheating heart, and Voice grows tiny, squeaks I’m sorry

for your loss; tries for tears to drown the sinking
terror, split the night, slow the flit of newsprint

in the brain, the stream, the meme, but what’s the use?
The world is all to shit. Voice lies. Voice lies alone

in bed; only a stutter, lost its spit, unfit
for purpose, a frayed rope tossed across the pit,

a whisper: sorry, sorry, sorry, to the mirror,
vacant, witless, nothing left of it.



Jacqueline Saphra teaches at The Poetry School. Her first full collection The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye) was nominated for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. An illustrated book of prose poems, If I Lay On My Back I Saw Nothing But Naked Women, (The Emma Press, 2014) won Best Collaborative Work at the Saboteur Awards 2015. Her website is

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