Breathe by Victoria Sullivan

Breathe by Victoria Sullivan

You can check out a video of the author reading this poem over on the Unchained Media Scotland Facebook Page by clicking here


‘I can’t breathe’, rasps the patient
Down the COVID Helpline
An ambulance takes him away
As blue light sirens whine

‘I can’t breathe’, is whispered
It’s time to ventilate
Doctors, nurses, heroes
Decreasing the death rate

‘I can’t breathe’, weeps the nurse
As she drives the long road home
Another heavy duty shift
More patients die alone

‘I can breathe!’, shouts Planet Earth
As humans stay indoors
The animals are free to roam
The bird of prey, it soars

‘I can breathe!’, we all exclaim
As we walk in fresh, clean air
Alongside sparkling riverbanks
Nature is everywhere

So, when our sports were cancelled
And the Olympics were no more
Why are we competing for
The world’s highest death score?

As human nature pushes through
From somewhere underneath
The age-old evil rises up
With cries of ‘I can’t breathe!’

And so our world goes backwards
Bringing hatred to the fore
Let’s focus on the virus
And make humans kind once more.

About the Author


I was born in Dundee but emigrated to South Africa in my childhood. I’d have to say my upbringing there had a lot of input into my views on how inequalities need to be set right now. I always had a passion for writing but never did anything about it until I did an Open University degree (while working and being a single parent). I wrote a lot of poetry at that time as well as some short stories and plays. A few poems were featured in anthologies and I had some success in a local competition with another. My poems were fuelled by sadness or hurt and when life got happier and I met someone and got married the need to write kind of hibernated. Until COVID came along. I work for the NHS, I am part of my health board’s headquarters in the Chief executive’s department and had the both frightening and fascinating privilege of being privy to all the decisions being made and ways the board was handling the insane situation we found ourselves in. So I wrote, and wrote and wrote. I’ve now written 7 lockdown poems (plus another one written tonight). These led to a few more commissioned poems for funerals, businesses and family. It’s been a tough time and I feel pretty emotional much of the time so it was a good way to vent that. I’m amazed with how well they’ve done and very pleased people find them as touching as I do when I write them.


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