Damsel & Other Poems by Kirsty Niven

The Heroines Among Us

Kirsty Niven shows us the different sides of a woman. Perception and reality both dancing, but not always to the same beat.


I don’t need rescued;
not every girl is a princess. 

Blood red lips drip,
staining snow white skin
starved to a deathly pallor. 

My Rapunzel hair thins,
strands drifting away
like dandelion seeds; 

the feathers fluttering
in the path, the aftermath,
of a swan that’s taken flight. 

Wholly sick of shadows,
I wield the future as my sword. 

My Grandparents’ House

They live in Dundonald, an ex-council house
on a street that rhymes like a children’s book.
You can just about see the castle from their door,
if you peer through the cracks in the estate. 

The living room is a green museum, holding
an exhibition on their lives, a detailed mosaic.
The photos of us grandchildren showcased,
through every stage of life, diplomas and proms –
well, until I dyed my hair a rebellious red. 

The mahogany cabinet displaying the souvenirs
of every holiday, from mildew ridden tents
to constellation level hotels; the Austrian crystal,
Welsh bells and the miniature Jersey jugs.
Anniversary gifts: plates in silver, pearl and ruby.
The tantalising sweetie cupboard beneath
with its crumbling mint air and rainbow wrappers. 

A clowder of cat figurines on the sideboard,
scented with the pot pourri in the glass bowl.
The vanity box down the side of the couch,
filled with George’s marvellous medicines
and the little sponges that became Barbie podiums. 

I think their bedroom is still my favourite.
I love to sit at her dressing table,
wrapped in its rose perfumed air.
My sticky fingers dip in and out of velvet boxes,
her best earrings held before my unpierced lugs.
Painting on her best lipstick, lines forgotten,
its waxy clown smile lingering for days. 

Her essence still breathes in this place,
her eyes watch on through the pictures on the wall. 


Your words step out of the page,
crawling onto my skin
and leaving inky footprints. 

The images look into my eyes,
burrowing into my brain.
It’s like they never left. 


 Kirsty A. Niven is from Dundee, Scotland. She graduated from the University of Dundee in 2013 with a first class degree in English. Her writing has appeared in a number of anthologies such as A Prince Tribute, Landfall and Heat the Grease: We’re Frying Up Some Poetry. She has also had poetry appear in numerous journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, The Poet’s Republic and Dundee Writes. Kirsty’s work can also be read online on websites such as Cultured Vultures, The Wild Word, Silver Birch Press and several others. 

Kirsty Niven – Online Open Mic

Begging with a silenced voice –
asking please don’t. No. Stop.
With deafened ears you go on,
pushing me deeper into the dark.
Everything echoes here.
Please ricochets in this hollow place.
Fists pummel, a boxing tornado.
My own clench, flooding red.
I wish for the oblivion of day
when it’ll be like this never happened.
Yet it too will be haunted by echoes,
by flashes of remembered lightning.
Bruises rain down on my skin;
its way of screaming for help.
Begging with a silenced voice.

The Playing Field
I loved to see the little flowers,
their dagger petals sharpening,
their sun faces glaring up at me.
The white fading under your shadow,
stems cowering in our midst.
The tangle of bones we form,
a resurfaced grave from long ago;
a notable archaeological find.
A pallbearer’s picnic, laid out
on your favourite stained hoodie.
It was here where I rolled the dice,
deciding our distorted fate,
cementing this unnatural affair.
Your fingers fidgeted with your lighter,
always ready to burn it down.


Kirsty Niven lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Boundless, Of Burgers and Barrooms andHeat the Grease: We’re Frying Up Some Poetry. She has also had her poetry featured in journals and magazines such as The Poet, The Queer Dot and Re-Analogue. Kirsty’s poetry can also be found online on the Stanza Poetry Map of Scotland, Voices and Prachya Review.

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