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21ST-CENTURY POETRY breathless by Nick Allen

in this time when even
breathing is a danger

from running hard just to be
at the back of the pack

from the hundreds of years
bearing down on your chest

breathe less
take up less space do not be
so obvious so demanding

breathe less
stand quietly in the shadows
do not ask for your share

breathe less
try not to draw attention to yourself
as you go about your business

but if you are waiting
for things to change

do not hold your breath
instead draw it all in
and blow this house down

Nick Allen’s latest book between two rivers (Maytree Press, 2019) is a collaboration with the York-based artist Myles Linley. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email


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