B C Irwin

B C Irwin is a proud Northerner and a good friend to all cats. They write both poetry and prose.

They currently pay the rent by taking tourist photos on a green screen. It isn’t as fun as it sounds.

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All I want to talk about is dogs / like / how small a toy poodle’s foot is / or the way you
always hear them barking like fire alarms in neighbouring gardens / but you never
actually see them / just like the fires.
I think it’s because I saw a dead dog in the canal / the other day / belly up / a boiled
chicken / its fur was a coat that didn’t fit.
My mum tripped over a speed bump / fell like a flash flood / she cried even though
she only grazed her knee / then it grew to accomodate a tumour / her three kidneys
stepped out coughing / I didn’t know how to help / she wasn’t my little girl anymore / I
fished the dog from the canal / handed it to her / and she said thankyou, thankyou /
this is just what I needed.


We coexist on the flat,
wide plain.
All of the corners are hot.
This is how I imagined Texas.

Digging, I couldn’t be interrupted.
Looking for the precious lick of groundwater
a fridge buried in my sleep.

My mother and my sister died
but very kindly came back
to haunt me.

We all stood around
the pitted earth, waiting
but only interstates

The phantom faces
told me not to try so hard,
but I pleaded with them,
told them the story of my life
and everyone,
including my version of Texas,
understood that no one really dies,
and that’s the worst part of it all.

3: When I found out

I dropped the shopping.
I was going to buy a cabbage
but instead I had to stand
outside the sliding doors
and mop up the falling sky
from around my feet.

I think it was a Tuesday.
The buses were moving
slow as salt.
My phone was talking rituals
in my pocket –

Be grateful.

The matriarchs are full of positivity.
They’re shining, somehow,
and beneath their praise of
the forests,
the acrylic nails,
the simple process of bathing,
there is a lead-heavy heat.

I want to see them turn to their fires,
tend to them with gunpowder and apologies.


my best friend
on the rug
and my mood flung itself round
like a carousel horse
in blackpool.


5: Blue WKD

Something is out of balance with itself;
no one will ask me about my love life,

or which train I take to return
to my alien postcode.

I am swimming.
No one is coming with me.

In this mystery of names
I am losing

bottles of blue WKD
and my inheritance of a smoker’s cough.

On the occasion that I love honestly
I do not expect flowers from my relatives.

I have practiced the poetry of holding back,
but that in itself is a terrible ghost.

6: Bubble and Squeak 

Crying over breakfast
in Jenny’s
I drop my knife, indignant.

I have the head
and wings of a pelican.

Rejection feels like oil drums
and hay bales in the heat.