Free Online Magazine from Village Earth

Brian Kirk – Different Trains

Profile Brian Kirk LE P&W Dec V Two 2018

Download PDF Here

Different Trains, poem by Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk is an award-winning poet and short story writer from Dublin. His children’s novel The Rising Son was published in December 2015. He was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2013 and highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2014 and 2015. His first poetry collection After The Fall was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017. He blogs at www.briankirkwriter.com.


different trains

come and sing the old refrain
won’t you come back    back to the north    feet on the floor
look to the west    the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

stand alone with your back to the door what do you see the old city
thirty years later looks much the same but it’s different
old people new buildings new people old buildings
you want to sit down but don’t want to take someone’s seat
not old yet but no longer young

so many souls on the tram wakening dreaming going to work
or to school or to court civil or criminal juvenile district or circuit

past the bare plaza the obsolete hospital museum memorials to the dead
or dying past flats shops and cafés markets early house pub

back to the north    feet on the floor    look to the west
the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

remember that first taste of beer in the morning watching the others
going to work while you drank punishing youth with old men’s
bad habits scared of the future you laughed in its face
now you see him again in the glass the pale boy with the shake
in his hand the black eye the bruised lip the lost look in his eyes

Dun Laoghaire Holyhead Euston in the footsteps of thousands
wanting to be different but not that different pretending to be
something else yearning for the thing you couldn’t name

that first winter damp morning you woke in a Stratford graveyard
caught the train back to Plaistow and walked home from there
what were you thinking that morning dew-covered bone-tired
broken by drink

back to the north    feet on the floor    look to the west
the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

to be free you told yourself that was the key but you were tied
to dull jobs routinely killing the pain with a drink till you felt better
felt nothing but not free at all no never that

all alone those weekends with no money no one to see or talk to
your own voice an irritation a spud in your mouth tongue swollen
speechless deformed half-formed not formed at all

alone on the street trying to outpace yourself you sought comfort
in the bookshops on Charing Cross Road in the galleries
in the back seats of churches at the weddings of strangers

and the jobs that you hated and the one that you lost and the panic
you felt was it that made you mean took the good out of things
carved the chip on your shoulder the bad word ever ready to utter
ah fuck it you thought what’s the point anyway

back to the north    feet on the floor    look to the west
the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

you were waiting for something to happen your ship to come in
but your train had already left the station
hard station hard lines hard luck that was your story for years

so you tried to be something more than you were
wrote some poems in old copies on the back of torn envelopes
thought they were good sent them off got them back
tore them up and despaired

on the Metro with Gerry playing at Orwell no longer alone
but confused nonetheless slept on the benches
at St. Germain de Prés stoned out of your minds
in the morning a tell-tale incision your last fifty francs gone
how close had he been with that blade

rode the trains all day long until evening in Luxembourg Gardens
moved on by the Gendarmes after they looked at your passports
what did they think two naïfs or real artists gazing back at them
black and white

there were glorious moments too sat on a bench side by side
after hours on different trains something deeper calling you
pulling you close out of all those millions

back to the north    feet on the floor    look to the west
the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

different train years later heading north to Gerry’s funeral
after he put a stop to it all back on the smokes for the first time
in months getting drunk like before already forgetting your friend
moving on he was gone

on the tube into work every day standing one hand holds a book
the other the moulded handle over your head
Camus Beckett Nietzche journey with you fester patiently
in your drawer for the ride home

tried out new words grew your hair smoked a pipe put on airs
without reason just to try to be… what    to be different
all the same in the end on your own at the end of the day

at weekends in turtle-neck and Chelsea boots on the tube
into Soho sat in pubs in the afternoon after the galleries
avoiding encounters pretending to read
words alive on the page

back to the north    feet on the floor    look to the west
the old metal bridge    o won’t you come back

years ago hearing trains going by in the night you chanted
a ragged melody staccato soundtrack for another life
imagined the kind of person you could be
if you could only get away

your life was run according to the times of trains
the up and down the fall of signal the ring of bell
the pull of lever relentless it seemed then
but there was an order in it you’ve been seeking ever since

remember the noise and the smell of the diesel
the bucket seats the cattle vans the fear of self
before the self had formed
a lifetime of pretence beginning with a train journey
a story starting with the words one day

one day you stood beside her on the tube
you knew her and her story well better than your own
after all you wrote it in your heart every day
in your dreams every night

the story of a boy and girl who left only to return
who escaped only to give themselves up
who figured out there was no destination
just the come and go

so come and sing the old refrain
won’t you come back    back to the north    feet on the floor
look to the west    the old metal bridge
what was it about it    won’t you come back    o heart be still


© Brian Kirk