Poetry from Kirsty Niven

Portraits After ‘A Likeness’

I don’t own an image, any proof that you lived: not a poorly drawn sketch or a blurred photograph.

There is no framed canvas in vibrant oil colours, the master of the place. No portrait to take pride in.

There are no stormy eyes glaring above the fireplace, that would judge my every move, every loose strand of hair.

All that’s left are memories, sullied by history. Your face cracked by your words, its art stained with their black tones.

Hearts may ache after leaps, but a canvas can’t be kept in order for one to live. A likeness will never help.



Foxgloves, fluttering between your fingers. Their gaping mouths opening like a baby bird’s ready to envelope you, starving for a taste. The pinks and purples stain, bleeding into your skin. The fairy dust, its pollen, highlighting each wrinkle in a nauseating effect. I watching you, heart blocked, the moth-like petals preparing to ingest. My panicked breath a clatter of wings as you flirt so effortlessly with the death they hold.


Beauty and the Beast

A tale as old as time, a beautiful girl falls for the animalistic man, the wolfish groom that desires to rip her asunder. Her sheep heart plods on naively, restraining an ebullition of love. A stained glass inspiration, their perennial petals refuse to fall – a Female Gothic happily ever after.

The violent twirls of crimson jut out at obtuse angles, an arrangement of bloody daggers. Black thorns winking, an oil spill gleam, beckoning like a lover with cruel intentions. A perfume so persuasive, its easy charm overpowering. Petals splayed, opening like a clam – an open book blossom. It is a gift.

A reversal of roles, all isn’t well – the beastly woman corrupting, a Queen of the succubi. Diseased, unclean monster – so many sins woven into the plumage of my Icarus wings. Men flee from me, ensnared in the arms of sacred virgins, those passive angels who knit.

I was never your Disney princess, the purest of souls, pretty in pink. I won’t pout like a drama queen corpse, awaiting some miracle kiss.  Never a Hitchcock starlet, ready for rescue and ever so grateful. I was always more of a bloody Mary, haunting your reflection nightly.

I am your equal. A terrible thought.


Not A Valentine

You are a gift from him. An unnecessary gift: a sign of secrets.

Your bloody crimson washes everything out. I am transparent in your presence. The blood filled mouth stills me.

Even the sharp prickles demand admiration, as if the blooms and fragrance did not gain enough. The pulsing perfume; syrupy and unbearable.

O why, why, must he reward me for his hidden crimes? I’d rather lie upon the beige grass and remain forever unaware.