Kirsten Irving



‘Heavens keep the newborn infant from starblasting and moonblasting, from epilepsy, marasmus, and the devil!’
When I’m lying, listening to the traffic of the flightpath,
the planes going over sound less like dragons
and more like whalesong, or a collie left alone

and I can almost tune out the cackling and hissing
from the lace-crammed room beneath my attic.
I can almost forget I have a duty

to keep it needing me. To give up my walls.
I can walk relieved of my rucksack of rocks.
It wakes. Such tiny feet. Such cuckoo greed.

Who designed this faulty apparatus?
If a cat behaved this way it would be slept.
If I – I know you had a hand in this.

You made it helpless and reminiscent
of me in photos I don’t remember posing for.
You have driven me to subtle books.

This spell, right here: Be mouthless,
ammonite, a subtle fixture
. Is this
a pillow I see before me?


(based on Dusk by Saki)
dusk had fallen
heavily over the scene, dusk mitigated by some faint moonlight
There was a wide emptiness
scarcely to be

the defeated. Men and women, who had fought
the curious, came forth
So bitter a thing

The wanderers in the dusk
a pleasure-ground that had emptied
bat-fashion, taking their pleasure
A blazing, many-tiered
stretch of windows

a carnation buttonhole
vanished slowly into the shadows

an elderly gentleman passed muster
in the half-light
the dark stretches between the lamp-lights.
that forlorn orchestra to whose piping no one dances

he was one of the
world’s lamenters
I don’t wonder either; the relief

I must have lost it
the one convincing touch
flitted away down the path
with all the solicitude of the chemist’s counter

that reflection scudding along the
dusk-shrouded path
a sovereign witness
a youthful figure in a light overcoat
hailing him.


KIRSTEN IRVING is one of the two editors behind Sidekick Books, and works as a freelance copywriter in London. Her poetry and short stories have been shortlisted for the Bridport prize, and her collection, Never Never Never Come Back, is available from Salt. She is currently working on an ultraviolent poetry show and a steampunk novel.


Read more by Kirsten Irving:

Author website
Kirsten Irving on Twitter
Author webpage
Kirsten Irving poem in B O D Y
Two more poems in B O D Y