Angela Kirby

THE SCARLET LAVATORY

It was difficult to find the right words
none of the books or the magazine
were any help, so in the end
she said good luck, which seemed
somehow, unsuitable, while he
equally at a loss, said nothing
but as if she had imagined
the eighteen years and five children
he nodded and walked out of the house.

There was nowhere she could hide
except in the scarlet lavatory
so she sat there and cried for a while
quite slow, painful tears, clinging
to the seat as if it was a lifebelt
but when the door-bell rang
she splashed her face and tried
to push it back into shape. He
was back for his forgotten whisky
a case of single malt but this time
as she pushed him out of the door
the right words came quite easily
she yelled Sod Off down the street.

© Angela Kirby

THE ANSWER

It is, the stylist says,
as she combs
my thinning hair,
the latest thing
in Christmas decor,
these frosted branches
that wreath
the salon mirror.
I raise an eyebrow
at the glass, whisper
the age-old question
mirror, mirror, on the wall –
and soft but clear
the answer comes
oh no, alas,
not you, my dear.

© Angela Kirby

LIFE ACTUALLY

January, cold as yesterday’s tea, with sky to match
not enough blue for a bunch of forget-me-nots as you
would say, worse I’m late again, the lights change to red
just as I get to them, so in a pathetic attempt to calm myself
I start to count backwards, from one hundred, very slowly
then when it gets to thirty, twenty nine there’s this weirdo
standing on the pavement beside me in tired jeans and
stained shirt, but on his shoulder is a blue cockatoo which is
so magnificent I’m transfixed by the sight, thereby missing
the lights once more which is pretty well how the rest of the day
turns out and actually, when I come to think about it, my life.

© Angela Kirby

ALL CHANGE

Even our small back gardens look confused  –
seasons no longer make sense to them, roses
in particular find things difficult, decisions
no longer theirs –  twig, bud, bloom, hip –
all come seemingly at random throughout
the year. And not just roses, spring bulbs too
will now appear and look around in, say,
November, shaking their heads as if to ask
what the hell is going on, while my camellias
draw lots as to which of them will open first
and when.  But it’s also tough for gardeners.
Should we prune, sow, feed, mulch, mow, etc
now, or more sensibly, eight weeks ago?
Simpler to take it easy in shed or summer house,
watching as the plants thrive, take over, die,
while we tell ourselves that their dead growth
provides a perfect habitat for wildlife, so
here we are, promoting bio-diversity by doing
nothing, it’s a comforting thought, one of few.

© Angela Kirby

OUR GRACIE                                  

i m Gracie Fields (Grace Stansfield), 1898-1979

Out t’pop shop a’ int’ t’co-op shop, fair clemmed; popping in to see
Uncle was the only choice when a family had nowt to eat,
Rochdale’s finest, born over a chippie, never forgot it.


Gracie, all singing-dancing variety Dame, pride of our alley,
Royal favourite, setting off, armed with aspidistras, Ave Marias
And Thing-Ummy-Bobs to entertain the boys at the front or smiley
Children at a Home she set up, and always that voice, that voice.
In the end, bye-bye Archie, Monty, it was sparky Boris on the Isle of Capri
Eeh, she was a grand lass, a reet bobby dazzler, were Our Gracie.

MATES

we’re a peaceful lot on the whole
well most of us are, live and let live,
that’s our motto, though to be honest
with you, when danger comes, panic
sets in and it’s everyone for themselves
so if, for instance, the narcissistic
trophy hunter turns pale and yells
for help when a crocodile leaps
from an innocent-looking pool
or lions, hidden by scrub, creep up
on him then roar in his ear, or the
trumpeting bull elephant charges
before he can reach for his gun, well
in such cases, believe me, it’s heads
down, tails up and we’re scarpering off
as fast as our shaky legs can carry us
and yet despite all such evidence
that points to the contrary, we will
always maintain that it is mutual support 
when life gets tough that keeps us
from despair in this uncertain world.

© Angela Kirby

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