Poems about our capital
Kirsten Irving was born in Louth in 1983. She edits submissions for Fuselit magazine and co-runs experimental poetry anthology press Sidekick Books with Jon Stone. As well as City State, her work has featured in Stop Sharpening Your Knives, Dwang, Rising, Hand+Star and Mimesis, among other publications. She is currently putting together her first pamphlet and collection and enjoys fighting with sticks.
This poem was published in City State: New London Poetry (Penned in the Margins, 2010), which showcases the work of 27 London writers. From hyperlinked walks of Battersea bombsites and guerilla gardening projects to jagged urban lyrics and dark hymns to the East End, City State presents a confident, entertaining and truly diverse snapshot of the best new poetry from London.
"...a disorder in which sexual desire is lower than that found in other men and women of the same physique, and which is insufficient to satisfy an average normal healthy sexual partner ... Many men noticed a similar effect during the bombing of London."
The Sexual Perversions and Abnormalities, Clifford Allen
The unseen Blitz,
buttoned into the city's trousers,
as chambers, ports, libraries crumbled
like cake, like felled dragons
bellowing smoke and rage:
silence in the bedrooms.
Those men left -
the wheezy, those not quite eighteen,
just forty-one, those with parents
juggled between countries,
those with vital jobs,
so lucky to have an excuse,
lay supine by sweethearts
as their skyline was pot-shot.
On nights when the sirens' invasion
wasn't too sharp, they might feel
a tap, a brush of breasts against the shoulder,
but the hand, lips, the firm, willing curves
would be gently pushed aside, grumbling
and nursing a hunger
rationing shouldn't touch,
while their partner, healthy but for the flat feet
pinning him to London,
stared at the ceiling: blank
and then suddenly covered
in a paper chase of embargoed photographs:
holes, pits, disappeared shops, jagged black logos,
all those snapped by amateurs then seized by suits
for fear of letting on
the lights might not come on again
all over the world.