Kirsten Irving’s What To Do

Kirsten Irving is one half of the team behind hand-made magazine Fuselit and collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books. Her first full collection, Never Never Never Come Back, is due to be released by Salt in 2012.

This pamphlet is full of characters in trouble. The energy that drives the poems won’t settle for resolution, only the sense that however bizarre the action or injury, it has you by the throat and isn’t letting go. This is, as they say, something else.
Nancy Archer steps out
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
Dreading my period. It’ll be more of a plague
than ever. But more than this
I dread putting my bubblecar eye
to the window of the club where I know you sit
in love, or joined by something stickier than the floor.
Honey and honey, I want my shot
but if I take my thumb and dash your heads
into the Bacharach-piping jukebox
or stake you with a huge incisor
and write liars in your combined juices,
it will be a half-cough of revenge, the kind
that doesn’t quite clear the throat.
That’s not to say I won’t.
The moon’s a thumbnail. Guess
I’ll sit on the bar stool of the cooling tower
until I work out
what to do with myself.
‘Nancy Archer steps out’: Nancy Archer, for sci-fi film abstainers, is the cuckolded eponymous heroine of Attack of the 50 ft Woman. She uses her new size and power to seek revenge against her philandering husband and his mistress, Honey Parker.
Meanwhile, down in the town, the good people
drink on

The gypsy on the hill is jabbering jelly again,
turfing slugs of words from his mouth, none of them
real words. You’d think that, working here, he’d try to learn.
Their ale is moreish, edged with honey and cardamom.
Never mind that me and my stone and my greying sling
are up here losing to a storey-high golem,
to Monday’s metal dinosaur, his chrome tongue
a poison whip, his tail a razor rattle,
to the mid-week spectre of my dead darling
who sucks at my neck, lisping for the blowhole
of my life force, whose own force
is close to crushing this little foreign skull.
The townsmen swig, while tengu swarm the rough grass,
while hags, their faces thick with poisoned hair
come snapping, scuttling like gigantic roaches
towards the beard of sheep, sheep unaware
that an army that could help them helps itself,
while their skinny page flings pebbles at the air.
Folk toss tales round the inn, each mouth a gulf
that takes in booze and mocks the foreign kook,
and me, I only know their word for wolf
Tell her, as you scramble from the lorry,
as she tries to slam the door, that you may be a liar
but you need her—her—to rule
your body, that you didn’t just roll
from a musty pit and oral
straight here. You’re short on allure,
so stomp around the garden like Lear.
Clown for her, rail
against the idiot you were, the lore
of your mistakes, the Erroll
double you left in his lair,
feral, tight, chest like a rough-strung lyre.
With your last reserves, tell her this: Your areolae
soft, hairless, your wet moss. I really think, Laura,
that you can save me. This, all this: it’s not real.
from What To Do (HappenStance, 2011).
Order What To Do.
Visit Sidekick Books.
Visit Fuselit.

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