Burnt out

‘These are the Hands’ is a newly released anthology which features poems written by professionals connected to the NHS as well as leading UK poets. Th project was conceived and lead by Dr Katie Amiel and the Emergency Poet. My poem ‘Burnt Out’ was motivated by a report recording stress and burn out among doctors and medical students, and the impact on their mental health. Videos of readings from the anthology are also available below.

He grew skin like armour

and steered conversation

to fend off attention.



As hours started blurring;

his friendships unravelled, 

relationships crumbled.



He battled the feelings,

would never acknowledge

this wasn’t his failing.







Then nights began burning;

he drained wine like coffee  

to cope with the next shift.



He clipped on a work smile

and colleagues remembered

him never complaining.



When anyone queried,

he stiffened the face mask

and was always fine, thanks.

Reading of ‘Burnt Out’ by Simon Callow
Live readings by Anthology poets at an event in May 2020 organised by PoetryforNHS

Health Poetry

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