Photo of Angela Kirby

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.




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




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




Summer Pudding


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