Kirsten Irving



“I suppose it starts to happen first in the suburbs…people starting to come apart.”
—Shirley Jackson, ‘Pillar of Salt’

Kirk house is still empty I see, poor front border guzzled by furze and lions.
did you know them? sure, you must have been round their barbeque once.
their boy ran for county, always belting around. his father was cross-country
two counties over before the	  labyrinthitis. 24 and giddy as a still-wet calf. it’s 
a shame, and you know 		        Mrs was his sweetheart at school, stood
cheering by the track on wet	            Saturdays with cold spaghetti hair, so 
when the old balance 	    you know, gave out, well they tried to
carry on, but you ask me	          it’s like old grey underpant elastic by then
can’t wind it back 		        can’t tighten it. they really did cook 
the best ribs on that		             dented old terrace. I’d give my real eyes
for a rib right now 		         you hear the news? the facility.
got out, one of them 			       secure? there’s science for you.
those things can get			          through any gap bigger than
say, a stamp like jelly.	 	           like thinking jelly
and we can lock 			               the gates, clunk bolts, arm alarms
all we like. we all have 		       holes somewhere. you forget
just how 			      		                          what’s the word?
poor.    porous. 				                          how porous we are.



Madness balls up, forces its way out chest first,
and stretches fleshily in the air. In the same way,
the once-mad themselves emerge. First as a bulb
wrapped in leaves, swelling from the labial gnarls
of a tree nook, then blossoming into fur and fine
elfpurse leather. Birthing a jumbled head, its
snubby bean nose reaching up past pips of eyes,
framed by soft mussel shells. A wriggle and gone.
In its place another muddy droplet forms, filling
the rough, mossy portal, powering up. Then more,
pausing, yawning thorn-fringed mouths to read
secrets, greetings swirling like banquets of flies.


KIRSTEN IRVING is one half of the team behind cult hand-made magazine Fuselit and collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books. Her pamphlet, What To Do, was released in 2011 by Happenstance Press and her debut collection, Never Never Never Come Back, was published in 2012 by Salt Publishing. She won the Live Canon poetry prize in 2011 and currently works as a freelance copywriter and proofreader with the collective Copy That.


Read more by Kirsten Irving:

Author webpage
One more Kirsten Irving poem in B O D Y