Jane Burn (British Working Class Poets)

Jane Burn


Jane Burn is an award-winning, working class, pansexual, autistic person, parent, poet, artist, and essayist (her essays have appeared on New Defences of Poetry: Newcastle University, 2021, The Friday Poem, 2021/22, Un/Natural Showcase, 2021, for D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent nature writers funded by the Royal Society of Literature’s Literature Matters programme and the Rebecca Swift Foundation, 2022). Her poems are widely published and anthologised. Her latest collection, Be Feared, is available from Nine Arches.


Ogre’s Burrito

Parcelled in linen, a crack of smudged eye
opens. Under-sheet in a claustrophobe,
arms pinned, I am an ogre’s burrito.
A salt-sweat salsa of the nights
inappropriate dreaming stains me, soaks
the bedding. Sour. I can smell myself –
I feel basted, the musk of arousal as I split
my welded legs apart. For a while,
through the sleep hours, I was unafraid.
Oh, how you were on me, how I was on you
hip grind, deep kiss, wet hot, touch. Lord,
if you could see me now, in all my repulsion!
I did not remove yesterday’s mascara –
flecks on my sockets like new-born flies,
grease and stickum. Today, no staffing
the till, no school run. Time to wallow
in slattern filth a while longer, time to tune
to the wants of me. Soon, the scourge
of shower scrub, toothbrush, hairbrush,
scent. I want you on me still, incubus –
not ready to be churched of your raking hands.
Dregs of lip remembered on my skin,
silverskim of lover’s argot sleeping the curls
of my ears. I open my mouth to the spoiled
dairy of waking breath. We were a chimera
through the dark time. Vagary. I stew myself
for a ghost. For the ache of a fool’s paradise,
a sapid drowse to ease the limbo of kitchen
sink, carwash, teacup, name-badge, smile.
I am hoarding you, a swallowed swan,
mute inside the Tabernacle of my chest.
Soon, the fall of dusk – our gullets sing
the sound of feathers, I am not ugly
in the sable of your eyes.

First published on And Other Poems



Only Child

I listen to you singing to yourself. Watch you in the garden, finding
a teammate in the fence as it returns the ball to you – standing in for
the sibling I never gave you. Couldn’t give you.

Something broke after you. I tell you how I could never have made
something so magical twice, that you grew so tall and strong
because you are all my babies born at once.


First published in Writing Motherhood, Seren


I saw, I saw

the tarry slur of a rising crow, trying to make flight—
slow, as if it had a bellyful of witches’ butter, and weighted
by the chunk of bleachy sky. I saw rubbish pinned by wind
booted workmen tramping the sideroad fub—pinching
it up with grabber-sticks, bagging its skirmished flags.
I saw the fattest dog I ever seen, hulked so tight under stretchy fur
I saw the spotting on its skin—it had freckles on its fat,
all wuff-wuff-wobble-wobble on the path. I saw a naked road,
peeled of its grykey mouths, a big machine laying a new skim,
boiling with stinks of petroleum jelly and ground. I saw my friend
across a table and we made boiled egg eyes with gossip. I saw
her shoulders up and downing like plinks on a piano. I saw
our mouths reflected in glass, tongues doing the clappers
in the bell of our throats—I saw our laughter as butterflies
and birds. Our table was an island in the sea. We forked along
with rashers, salted our smiles, tried not to drown in our tea.


First published in Skylark Review


The Year of Abandoned Self

I am become entirely used to the things my head invents—
visions of futures, of secrets, of hell. They might be prophetic.
I ought to be writing them down. William Blake

saw angels in the trees—Ezekiel saw wings and faces, wheels
inside of wheels. One time, when I was tired near Gatwick
late at night, I saw this murky figure unfurl beneath

a motorway bridge, clung upside-down like a bat, Its lips were bone—
a spew of garbage laughter spilled like sick from its mouth. I think
it was death, waiting for me to crash. I saw bundles of sheep

as I walked on a path. Candy colours fleeced their happy backs—
they were made from pixels, tiny squares of bubble and bright,
like a Super Mario zoo. They smiled as I put my boot to their heads,

trying to tamp them down. I saw a wingback chair melt around
my friend. The burgundy upholstery ran like blood. She had no idea—
just drank her tea, told me this and that, all nonsense, no matter fluff.

I thought I want to go home. If I stay longer, she’ll drown. I am soft
as sea-mumbled stuff. I am meld. Listen to my rambling. All the ghosts—
infestations in the corner, like wisps, like smoke, are with me all the time.

I saw road signs pluck from their tarmac roots and run alongside my car,
grins on their flat metal faces. We sang it’s a small world after all,
that Disney song—quite merry, considering I’m properly xxxxing mad.

Imagine keeping such secrets when you are dying to tell. The dogs help
root through the woodpile for clues. They believe in everything I say.
I can’t remember stashing all this broken glass. The woodlice nest

like a plot, like troubled consciences, flitting out of sight. I am paranoia.
I am Armageddon. I’m horrible. Beautiful. I’m a dungeon.
I’m nothing. I’m the second coming of Christ.


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