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Clare Kirwan

Updated: Wed, 29 Jun 2011 10:02 am

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I\'m a poet, writer and compere based in Wirral, Merseyside. I used to be a magician\'s assistant but rarely appear out of empty boxes any more. I won the Liverpool Slam in 2005, but have more of a history of coming second in things including 2nd Most Glamourous (yes... me!) Poet in the first ever Liverpool Glam Slam and 2nd in the Feile Filiochta International Poetry Comp 2007. I\'m involved with Dead Good Poets Society in Liverpool and have had poems published widely incl Orbis, MsLexia, Aberrant Dreams. I also write short stories and have been published in Dark Tales, Electric Spec, and the anthology Read by Dawn II. A novel is in the pipeline... but it\'s hit some kind of kink in the plumbing. I managed to come first in the Big Issue in the North\'s first poetry competition The Big Scribble in 2009. This year the Ragged Raven anthology was named after my poem \'The world is made of glass\' which was runner up in their competition - a good reason to never call your poem \'F***, F***, F***!\' I\'ve been a regular compere at the Dead Good Poets Society, and blagged, er bagged, gigs widely, from Las Vegas to Lancaster, Belfast to Bolton and my \'Dead Good Down Under\' in Australia and New Zealand. I blog as and co-edit - which is always looking for submissions of topical news-related poems. You can also Tweet me - @ClareKirwan ...excellent, clear and polished, with just the right mix of serious poems and the bizarre. Gill McEvoy, Zest! A fabulous poet and performer. Tim Jones, New Zealand Poetry Society ‘Brilliant, witty, wish-I\'d-said-that poetry... just a continuing delight.’ (Roger Cliffe-Thompson B.T. Liverpool Arena Poet) ‘I think the poems are great, but I know nothing about poetry - and I am her mother.’ (Teresa Kirwan)


A Royal Wedding We’re thrilled, elated, quite bewitched That Will and Kate are getting hitched. There hasn’t been a Royal bash Since that funeral (post-crash). Now out across the royal domain The Union Jack shall fly again! Across the land are bands of Nanas Knitting flags and painting banners. Cometh the day, come the man: The good, the great, the also-ran: The organ swells, with trumpets blaring Bloody Hell! What’s Beatrice wearing? How’s she going to find a hubby Channelling a Tellytubby? Every balustrade is burnished Here’s the queen with David Furnish, And David Cameron – the twat Pretends he can’t afford a hat. The gathered crowd all strain their necks To sneer and bitch at Posh and Becks. But nothing’s shabby, nor sinister In the Abbey of Westminister Where trees are in the congregation (To give Prince Charles some conversation). And every rank of royal vermin Spank themselves with whips of ermine Then gird their loins, and tighten trusses To board the sordid minibuses. Wave a flag and find a hankie! Here’s Queenie tucked up with a blankie And if she nods off, quite serene, It’s Philip’s job to poke the Queen. The BBC shows maps as graphic: Weren’t they lucky with the traffic? When in the Mall the multitude Of unwashed plebs is in the mood. Watching Bishops march in rows (not diagonally as we’d supposed). Then after singing and ‘I do’s’ It’s time for canapés and booze! ‘All back to ours!’ cries Mum, her highness, ‘Put away all thoughts of shyness To the balcony, migrate A million people are at the gate!’ Camilla does a baby dangle And photographed from every angle It’s: ‘Touch my sword’ and ‘Touch my lily’ ‘Kiss me Kate! Yes, kiss me Willy!’ Return It’s me. I’m back with my eye in a sling and one broken wing like a raped angel. With this angle-poise mouth full of missing words stumbling over undocumented miracles. With snapshots of the moon from different angles, with a string of stray dogs the length of a highway, With worn-out shoes that bit and blistered me in streets where lampposts bent to singe my hair It’s me, I’m back - picked from the wreckage of violent dreams with new skid marks and scars part of me is still lost in that careless ocean all those tattoos of heaven cut from my skin. I’m a gilded jigsaw so pick up the pieces, just fill in the edges… but leave out the sky – it’s too hard. I’m a yard sale on legs, some parts haven’t worked for years: going cheap this rusty heart, this unwanted gift of love. It’s me. I’m back, one hand on the door, one finger on the hair-trigger smile I kept dry for you. I’d have sent a postcard, I’d have called, but the long walk is no place for instant reminiscences. You make your own rules, and these were mine: never look forward, never look back, keep throwing the stars over your left shoulder into the eye of the devil, take what you need, and leave what you can’t finish… My grandmother knitted her own eyebrows. You had to in those days – there was a war on. It was that or gravy browning, but she’d used that up on the back of her legs to create the illusion of stockings. Visually effective, but never quite so warm. The same was true of the eyebrow: A line would do at a push in an emergency, but if you really wanted to keep warm and keep the falling debris from your eyes knitted ones were so much more efficient. She used number three ply and knit one pearl one. I don’t know if that’s true but then I never asked… … so many things I didn’t think to ask about ‘til later. All I remember is she warned me off plucking them… ‘or they’ll never grow back’ she said. I tried plucking my legs with this promise in mind, but they always did. It was like the hair in different body parts obeyed different rules – and some obeyed no rules at all. I used to think everyone’s pubes would be as black as mine. I was shocked the first time I saw a naked redhead, for that (and several other) reasons. So I didn’t pluck them. Partly because I never learned to knit – I could do the basics but not casting on or off. If I’d tried to knit my brows they would have just gone on forever. Which is frowned upon. My Mum and the Beatles She heard the music but still she walked past the Cavern in those heady early days before the sixties came swinging in, intent on shopping – her bottom drawer full of linen, not vinyl. Come with us! Her friends chattering in the Cotton Exchange typing pool, then the tap… tap… tap of her heels on polished floors and pavements down to Lewis’s, blushing below the naked statue – all that to come – her mother measuring her twenty one inch waist, the snip of pinking sheers through satin those last Waterloo evenings, Her friends still hummed with pop and possibilities: These four are fab! Come with us! But she never did go. All she needed was love Love, she said, is all you need. ---------------------------- If I was… If I was string I’d want you to unwind me If I was spices I’d want you to grind me If I was a contract I’d want you to bind me But I’m a missing cog, a little lost dog – so just find me If I was a kettle I’d want you to boil me If I was a robbery I’d want you to foil me If I was a carpet I’d want you to soil me But I aggravate, I’m a creaking gate – so just oil me If I was a pilchard I’d want you to catch me If I was a cottage I’d want you to thatch me If I was a handbag I’d want you to snatch me But I make you twitch, a niggling itch – so just scratch me If I was money I’d want you to spend me If I was a rule I’d want you to bend me If I was a parcel I’d want you to send me But I’m in the pits, I’m broken in bits – so just mend me If I was a donut I’d want you to fill me If I was Martini I’d want you to chill me If I was a minge I’d want you to Brazil me If I was a squaddie I’d want you to drill me If I was beans I would want you to spill me If I was condemned I’d want you to kill me But I’m yawning, bored, too long ignored – so just thrill me ---------------------------- I wake up with perfect hair you wouldn’t think to look at me but I swear to you that every morning I wake up with perfect hair perfect intentions, it’s another example of the way I live my life back to front as though the usual rules did not apply I wake up with perfect hair as though coiffured by nighttime stylists with silent scissors, blown dry with angel breath, silvered by moonlight as though I slept delicately and did not dream of frosted faces, battles to the death as though when I was dead to the world undertakers came with combs leaving me presentable, though absent I’m not like him, the one I left behind the night-time deviled him and he awoke eventually with horns of hair beautiful when I rise, it’s just the daylight that ruffles me, life’s vagaries tousle my hair my head, my tongue

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Suzy Miller

Sun 29th Sep 2019 16:41

Hello Clare

I would like to include your poem in my presentation for a TedX and wanted to get written confirmation that I could use your poem Weapons (and credit you of course) during my talk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Suzy Miller

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Clare Kirwan

Thu 18th Mar 2010 10:14

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Not sure if I'm supposed to respond here or on your own pages, but much appreciated!

<Deleted User> (7904)

Wed 17th Mar 2010 21:13

Brilliant stuff. 'My grandmother knitted her own eyebrows' blends surrealism and mundanity together brilliantly and manages to seamlessly take an initially silly premise somewhere quite deep without losing the humour. I loved 'If I was', as well, it must go down brilliantly at performances. I love the way the rhyme turns in each verse, it's very artfully constructed.

<Deleted User> (7140)

Tue 1st Dec 2009 14:26

Good afternoon Clare

"If I was" is a really clever poem and clever for its funny & sad. Loved the Grandmother knitted eyebrows story/poem. I thought of Alan Bennett with all that analytical detail of the woman. I can't get gravy-on-the-legs-to-give-the- impression-of-tights out of my mindl


ps. Congrats on getting a prize at the Troubadour. Your name is on a list I have just received by email .... I am assuming you are THE Clare Kirwan!

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Ann Foxglove

Thu 26th Nov 2009 19:27

If I was is brill/funny/sad - great!

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Clare Kirwan

Sat 31st Oct 2009 22:00

Thanks Carol! Me and S/M enjoyed your company too! x

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carol falaki

Sat 31st Oct 2009 11:03

Hi Clare, love your poems. Thanks for a great day on Sunday and congratulations again on winning the Big Issue competition.
Here is a small ode to your kind friend

Thank you for the journey
Your pleasant company
Although your name is Sheila
You’re Muriel to me:)

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Tomás Ó Cárthaigh

Sat 18th Oct 2008 21:25

I wake with perfect hair too... when its cropped close. I loved the Beatles poem, how motherhood had made her grow too old too soon, and yet maybe not a bit of it...

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Sat 13th Sep 2008 22:05

If I was…

:) and thrice :)

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Sun 7th Sep 2008 23:38

"If I was" a fabulous 'list' of desires and desiring...hope you were thrilled fulfilled!

Loved it,

<Deleted User> (5646)

Fri 1st Aug 2008 21:52

Hi there,
I always hated the Beatles as a youngster. Got really pissed off when they were always number 1 in the charts.

" If i was," is brilliant. Love it.

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