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first published The Rialto;

                                                          in collection, Stealing The Eiffel Tower, 1997,

                                                          Rockingham Press ISBN 1-873468-50-4


Course Work


I know her again in the curve of her neck,

rinse conditioner through knotted hair

as she kneels by the bath, silent for a moment

reprieve from sulks about empty freezers


doors slamming at dawn, black lipstick.

The infection in the fourth hole of her ear-lobe

she’s dealing with herself. I massage her scalp


this remains one thing I can do.

Smell of almond, swell of a back that’s more

like her father’s. There is blood on the pack

under the chops. She arranges them on the table


with the rusty cleaver I bought in Beijing

a year before she was born. She’s decided to do

eight pieces of work about meat and knives,

copies traces of blood soaked into the absorbent pad


— it must be designed deliberately.

My mother asked the butcher to separate bills

from weekly deliveries; dried out crimson puddled

accounts on the metal spike in the bedroom cupboard.


She never mentions her cousin who died with a snap

of his spine. The axe slices into slabs of pink flesh.

I’ve been buying meat all week. Who’d love a butcher,

red fingers scrubbed, apron tight over a smooth belly.


I need white she says, for the fat. She switches to oils,

asks me to look in Sainsbury’s for a really red fillet.

Blood on the pack, stains on the back of a skirt,

curve of her neck as she leans over the paper.



Jane Kirwan


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poetry favourites:

and in the shop ...
novel -
"Don't Mention Her",
Blue Door Press

collections -
"The Man Who Sold Mirrors",
"Stealing the Eiffel Tower",
Rockingham Press 

joint collections -
"Born in the NHS" (with Wendy French)",
The Hippocrates Press

"Second Exile" (with Ales Malhácek),
Rockingham Press
in Czech translation
"Druhy Exil",
Novela Bohemica


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