Brian Kirk – The New Curiosity Shop

Kirk LE P&W 2 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Nov-Dec 2023.

The New Curiosity Shop, poems by Brian Kirk.

The New Curiosity Shop

For those of you who find it hard
to keep your eyes closed, we have masks
that block out light. For those who tire
from standing, we have canes that take
your weight (but where they take it
no one knows). For the hard of hearing
we offer earplugs which can simulate
the mumbled chant of monks or the buzzing
of your neighbour’s strimmer on sunny
afternoons when you sit down to read.
For baldness we can recommend a hat,
for shyness, a shot of something stronger
in a dirty glass. For spots we stock all sorts
of creams – none of which help. For piles
we carry a range of rubber rings, for wind
we stock ‘The Little Book of Calm’. For good
or ill, we endeavour to meet all your needs;
the ones you won’t admit to most of all.
We offer whiskey for drowning sorrows,
shovels for burying the past, matches
to set fire to bridges you’ve just crossed,
traps that you can leave around the house,
rats that if released into your kitchen
can become a talking point at dinner parties
for years to come. We take no responsibility
for your feelings after purchase. Our terms
are clear. The price at time of order is the price.
For larger items delivery dates are flexible.
Check your goods upon arrival – return them
at your own expense. A damage report
should be submitted (including photographs).
Defective goods, returned, become
our property again.


First it was carrier pigeons.
I thought it was cute until
they shat all over my window sill.
Then it was smoke signals –
easier to ignore but insistent.
After a month the letters arrived;
I let them build up on the mat
until I couldn’t open the front door.
Then it was emails and phone calls,
and when I didn’t pick up, voicemails.
That was years ago. Now no one calls
or writes anymore. Still, I lie awake, listening,
straining to hear while the dark overflows,
dripping the silence of years.

Half Life

laughing means nothing
until you cry
speaking means nothing
until you stop
sleeping means nothing
until you wake
eating means nothing
until you starve
drinking means nothing
until you thirst
working means nothing
until you rest
living means nothing
until you die

crying means nothing
unless you laugh
silence means nothing
unless you speak
waking means nothing
unless you sleep
hunger means nothing
unless you eat
thirst means nothing
unless you drink
resting means nothing
unless you work
dying means nothing
unless you live

© Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk is an award-winning poet, short story writer and novelist from Dublin. His first poetry collection After The Fall was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017. His poem “Birthday” won the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2018. His short fiction chapbook It’s Not Me, It’s You won the inaugural Southword Fiction Chapbook Competition and was published by Southword Editions at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September 2019.

He is a recipient of Professional Development and Agility Awards from the Arts Council of Ireland. His novel Riverrun was chosen as a winner of the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2022. His next poetry collection Hare’s Breath is due from Salmon Poetry later in 2023. He has read and hosted events at literary festivals around the country including Dublin Book Festival, Listowel Writers’ Week, Red Line Book Festival, Cork Short Story Festival, Belfast Book Festival and Bray Literary Festival. He is a member the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

One Reply to “Brian Kirk – The New Curiosity Shop”

  1. Well done Brian. I really enjoyed these poems. Half life is very clever and the last two lines hit me like a hammer.

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