Lancashire-born Angela Kirby now lives in London. Her poems are widely published. Shoestring Press published her five collections and a sixth is due in 2022.
ON A WET AFTERNOON IN CO CORK
It’s not what we’d expected
on a wet afternoon in Midleton,
County Cork but then, just
as we left the bookshop,
happy to have found a copy
of Sean O’Criadan’s poetry,
there they were, two of them
being prodded along
by a young lad with a stick,
swaying down the high street
and not that big, as elephants go
yet large enough all the same,
grey, wrinkled, a little hairy,
their eyes looking nowhere
except down at the road, which
made us both so damned
depressed there was nothing
for it but to drop in at Roisin’s
for a shot of Jamesons, then
a couple or so more, plus
a plate of bacon from Gubeen
and some cheese, but even that
didn’t do it and we had no heart
for the craic, not after seeing
them there, prodded along by
a young lad with a stick, two
small grey elephants looking
sad and cold on a wet afternoon
in Midleton, County Cork.
© Angela Kirby
IN DEFFENSE OF MEN
calm down, dear
Let us discuss masculinity – men now complain
to me of being continually traduced. They ask
Must we not struggle with recession, social changes,
unfamiliar mores, the admittedly overdue ascent
of women? It can’t be easy, one feels for them.
There is much about men to be loved, in their infinite
variety – the long, the short and the tall, bless ‘em all,
as the song goes, the fair, the dark, the russet. This one
small and wiry, that one tall, laid back; the half-pint
and the gentle giant; saint and sinner, dustman, Don.
Oh, I have loved them, not wisely but far far too well –
so many things about them being irresistible; those smooth
broad shoulders get me every time, and the gold hairs
on their wrist, the slim shins of bronzed sportsmen or
chunky Scottish thighs which make a kilt hang bonny.
An aristocratic nose, lopsided smile, capable hands, slim
sensitive fingers – a list causing me to regret my recent
retirement from the field. But can one forget the darker side?
At best, emotional retardation, snubs, casual sexism, barely
suppressed rage; at worst, flashes of violence and cruelty.
Men will blame such things on chromosomes and hormones
raging way out of their control, to toxic barely-understood rogue combinations of nature and nurture, so that occasionally,
on a fine day when feeling unusually generous, I might,
I just might, give them at least the benefit of the doubt.
© Angela Kirby
the winter it all began
the winter we were snowed in
the winter our second child was born
the winter our sixth child was conceived
the winter my mother began her slow death
the winter you said everything was over
the winter I don’t want to remember
the winter I will never forget
the winter you left us
All day long we argue, and half-way through
the night, each of us quite sure that we are right.
It must be blueberries, I say, but he insists on raspberries,
red currants, and some cherries, preferably black or
maybe, at a pinch, strawberries but I won’t give an inch;
cooked strawberries are anathema to me and one has
to make a stand, yet he begins once more, raspberries,
red currents and some cherries, preferably black.
Now as the cook, I have the edge on him, so Never,
it must be blueberries, I say again, and that you’d
think was that, but no, not having got his way, he
sneaks out round the back and in next door to Celia
where, the bitch, she serves him Crême brulée.
© Angela Kirby