After The Fall
Page Count: 76
Publication Date: Thursday, November 09, 2017
Cover Artwork: Photography by Jessie Lendennie
About this Book
Brian Kirk’s poetry exhibits mastery of craft and respect for both poetic form and experiment. In his ‘broken song / from restless birds’, he displays the contemplative gifts of the natural philosopher. Here we have an Everyman exploring the joys of love and familial relationships, the tedium of office and farm work, the disappointments of religion and world politics, ‘and the rest / that makes our lives so blundering, so blessed’.
Brian Kirk’s poetry is a poetry of time and place. In poems of controlled passion and energy, he maps out his territory which, on the surface is domestic, but on closer examination reveals something much deeper. God, religion, family, and above all love as it is in its reality without any dressing or highflown nonsense. The poems here are as tender as they are vulnerable: lovers, children, fathers, sons, uncles – the whole gamut of family life – all are treated with compassion, and whatever questions he raises he never opts for glib or easy formulation. “She walked into the Sheaf of Wheat one night and disappeared.” So opens one of the poems, (Persephone), with the compacted mystery of a Dashiell Hammett. Something has fallen and given way, and Brian Kirk’s poems miraculously sift the wreckage for its poetry and human mystery.
Brian Kirk is an award winning poet and short story writer from Clondalkin in Dublin. He was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2014 and 2015. He won the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award for Poetry in 2014, the Bailieborough Poetry Prize in 2015 and the Galway RCC Poetry Award in 2016. His poetry film Red Line Haiku was featured at the Red Line Book Festival in October 2015 and was subsequently shortlisted for the Ó Bhéal Poetry Film Competition in 2016. His poetry has been widely published and has been nominated for the Forward Prize and Pushcart Prize. His novel for 9-12 year olds The Rising Son was published in December 2015. He is a member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and he blogs at www.briankirkwriter.com.
Read a sample from this book
At the Archive Reading Room
Step off the street into the silence,
climb the stairs, produce your card
and push into the past.
Directories and almanacs,
old books and manuscripts,
lie waiting in repose for invocation,
your mark upon a chit of paper.
Withered maps and photographs,
guidebooks from a distant time,
ephemera of one kind or another
are wheeled along on soundless trolleys,
quickened, photocopied, browsed, returned,
Here you will find
your faceless ancestors
buried in dusty books,
in boxes on marked shelves,
under the dead leaves
of never-read pamphlets
and dog-eared photographs.
Readers are advised to take care
when handling manuscripts,
pencils only can be used for taking notes.
Archive materials are fragile, often irreplaceable,
so you are requested not to write on them,
not to lean on them,
not to place any object on top of them.
Record-keeping is an art,
not an act of administration.
Keep conversation to a minimum,
turn off your mobile phone or silence it.
Sit quietly and wait until
the flat file of their disaster
opens out across your desk:
the sundered walls, the roof collapsed,
the salty tears of barefoot children
washing dirty faces.
Time is passing. Ineluctably the
wheels will turn, the walls will fall,
all things will keep, tears dry in time.
Life Is Elsewhere
Even the sound of a goods train
passing in the night,
rattling the rotten frame
of my childhood window;
even that spoke to me then
of a life I was missing.
Later, the dead eyes of a stranger
on the bus home from school,
unshaven and shabby in creased overcoat,
a worn paperback in his pocket;
he lived the life I both feared and desired.
Or the men who stood on the
doorsteps of pubs, or bookmakers,
cigarettes hidden in hands with stained fingers;
these were the ones I yearned to be counted among –
not the good, the polite and the young.
But I was bound by the kindness of others,
obliged to be who I was
out of duty and love;
I had to create out of nothing
false reasons to fight
where no fight was sought,
to reject all that was given for free
in a house where I knew only love.
I never thought that I would find him
cold and dead, stretched out in a stranger’s yard,
as if sleeping – but not sleeping – numb, hard
as the frozen ground, draped in a fine skim
of winter’s leavings. Only an old cat,
an insignificant death you might say –
Aristotle certainly saw it that way –
when compared to a human life lost; that
is what vexes some people, that feline
or canine can be treated like human,
cried over like lovers, valued like someone
you lived with and loved throughout their decline.
The divine in me with apt insouciance
digs a shallow grave and buries nuisance.
Poems © Copyright Brian Kirk 2017