Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins is a Galway-based poet, essayist and reviewer, and satirist-in-residence at the alternative literature site The Bogman's Cannon,

National Poetry Day: Anatomy of a Bomb Scare
Thursday, 04 October 2018 09:30

National Poetry Day: Anatomy of a Bomb Scare

Published in Poetry

Anatomy of a Bomb Scare
for Jacqueline Walker

by Kevin Higgins

Tasks such as this are typically implemented
on deniable mobile phones,
ordered by a raised eyebrow or nod
fourth or fifth floor
of an unpainted, concrete building,
about which no more can be said because,
for reasons obvious to both
The Guardian and the Daily Star – though they
choose different language to say
so – the security services never comment on
operational matters.

It’s the unanimous advice of a committee
of twenty seven former Attorney Generals,
the Chair of the BBC Board of Governors, and all ex
Archbishops of Canterbury (living and dead)
that for reasons of national well-being no record must be kept
of the twitchy eyebrow or official-looking
nod of the head in question. Such things are done
by loyal servants of things as they must remain
when sending round Balaclava-d policemen
(and women) might prove counterproductive.

On rare occasions some independent maniac
in a top floor flat with hardly any windows
who generally speaking couldn’t organise
a butt rub at a tantric sex party,
to which he’d never be invited anyway,
inspired by the sweaty ravings
of our Twitter bots which unlike Russia’s
don’t exist, miraculously manages to plant a bomb,
and as at Bologna, Dublin, Monaghan
puts a mass of concrete and angle-grinders asunder,
leaves jaw and shin bones separate
from the heads and legs to which they were
until seconds ago attached, there
in the foyer for some rank and file cop
to collect, bag and label;
or drives a box of nine inch nails
into what we consider politically expendable eyeballs
at five hundred kilometres per hour.
Such actions are a bonus
and we welcome their contributions 
to our ongoing struggle,
though they’re not officially sanctioned.

Mostly our task is to convince
people we don’t exist,
except in the minds of pink eyed conspiracists;
to tend the fungus doubt
that the likes of you,
dear victim,
probably divide your Mondays
between subsidised yoga and phoning in threats
against yourself.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Dame
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 08:49

Cometh the hour, cometh the Dame

Published in Poetry

Cometh the hour, cometh the Dame
after John Cooper Clarke

by Kevin Higgins

the fucking dame is fucking furious
and not fucking having it
fucking up is fucking down
fucking in is fucking out
fucking master is fucking slave
fucking Palestine is fucking never
fucking Goliath is fucking David
fucking catapult is fucking atom bomb
the fucking wall was fucking built
to keep the fucking Arabs off
the fucking land fucking snatched
fucking fair and fucking square

and if you lot dare
say I stalk about the fucking
House of Commons spitting
words like ‘fucking’ or mention
the fucking bust of fucking Lenin
I fucking bought and fucking placed
in Islington Town fucking Hall when
I was first elected fucking queen
you’ll be hearing from
the fucking lawyer my fucking hubby
gifted me our first night together
sincerely fucking yours, Margaret Hodge

The Truth Behind the Wire
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 20:27

The Truth Behind the Wire

Published in Poetry

The Truth Behind the Wire

by Kevin Higgins

Kindly disregard the attention seeking cries of the few.
They are child actors being given scripts by liberals.
Most of the young people there are delighted with
what we’re doing. There is no policy
of separation from parents. It’s just
if you’re going to process the mamas
and papas, you’ve gotta take
the bambinos away.
The wire we put around them,
for their own safety, isn’t even barbed.
In there, we help kids go to school;
even give them haircuts
with our giant - and deadly
accurate - Immigration
and Customs Enforcement scissors.

This is the exact opposite of cages.
Despite the headlines,
no one has been gassed.
There are, and never have been,
any concentration camps.
These children are in temporary custody;
playing video games
and soccer; getting two snacks
a day and lots of sleep
under their resplendent thermal blankets.
The chain-link fencing
we’ve used to divide into bedrooms
the building we’re warehousing them in
is entirely incidental.

Almost none of the adolescents in our possession
have, as of yet, been turned
into bespoke hat-stands
and raffled off to the dissatisfied wives
of Texan cattle-hands.

And we have, as of today, no plans
to use the hindquarters of the small ones
to fashion a new face for
Rupert Murdoch.

Don't Stop Repealing
Monday, 28 May 2018 18:25

Don't Stop Repealing

Published in Poetry

Don’t Stop Repealing

after Journey

by Kevin Higgins

In the interests of the coming equality,
of which everyone is now theoretically
in favour, the mahogany dining tables of Taylors’ Hill
must be immediately confiscated; the wood used
to fashion a makeshift grand piano
for every asylum seeker child in the city.

All marble staircases will be yanked out,
like massive teeth, and delivered
to the nearest band of traveller children
to do with as they wish.

Former Senators, with fully paid-up
Galway Golf Club memberships,
must be auctioned off to buy
T-bone steaks for seasonally unemployed
fish factory hands.

To further redress the class balance,
it will be compulsory
for the Armed Response Unit to legally remove
by shooting as many times as necessary
any auctioneers or Papal Nuncios
seen acting suspiciously outside
the kebab shop.

Property developers of all genders,
races, and sexual orientations who purchase
half finished apartment blocks
for the very heaven of just watching
the price rise, will be taken forcibly

in the back of an obliging HiAce
to the nearest available handball alley,
where they’ll be given fifty strokes
across each cheek
by some mad eejit with a grudge.

Ireland, May 26th, 2018

Let Me Tell You About Them
Saturday, 19 May 2018 16:59

Let Me Tell You About Them

Published in Poetry

Let Me Tell You About Them

by Kevin Higgins

The teenagers we shot yesterday
were shot responsibly through the eye
with plain-speaking dum-dum bullets,
manufactured in Fife, or taken down
with SR 25 sniper rifles flown
heroically in from Orange County.
Many of these so-called protestors
specifically arranged to be shot in the back,
just to make us look bad.

The gas canisters our people threw
were entirely rational, and legal,
like the Boer firestorm the kaffirs
brought down on themselves at Sharpeville,
or the best-of-British ambush
that rubbish walked into at Derry.

The one rogue canister which lost
its mind and finished up in a tent
beside an eight month old baby,
who, sadly, also expired, is currently under investigation
and expects to be cleared of all wrong doing,
unlike the baby who we’ve already found guilty.

There is no such thing as Palestinians.
Just some Arabs who used to live here
and think they still do.
The keys they wave in the air
no longer open any doors.
They are a rumour you foolishly believed,
now we’ve moved our eternal capital
to what used to be
their front room.

Hoodied Bridget
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 11:14

Hoodied Bridget

Published in Poetry

Hoodied Bridget
after Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill

by Kevin Higgins

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. - Karl Marx

You’ve seen me doing my hours emptying
the ashtrays of third hand taxis cabs
and scrubbing hard with bleach their tainted back seats
before they’re offered up again
to the god of whatever the market fetches
in a town the government has privately agreed
is to be discontinued, and wondered
what’s with her smirk?

You’ve seen me doing my hours
in the two Euro shop and considered
offering me twenty quid
for a quick ride around the back
of the disused funeral parlour
next door. For you’ve no idea
what I am.

If you’d any sense
you’d wake screaming
every night in fear of me.
By the time you do
I’ll be standing over you
and you’ll still be wondering
what’s with her smirk?

For there’s a crowd coming behind me
carrying a flag you won’t believe
you’re seeing again
until you do.

You’ll go red in the face like an old fool
about to choke to death during sex, and tell me
I’ll have fries with that.
For you’ve no clue who I am.
You’ll fumble for your wallet
and toss me a fifty Euro tip, and wonder,
one last time, what’s with her
insufferable smirk?

For by then the ship
you thought would never come in
will have quietly docked
flying a flag you’ll remember
from the history books.
Its contraband cargo
that will give us the metal to own
everything you think rightfully yours
being silently unloaded by others like me
made what they are
by years looking at the likes of you
poured into your waistcoat, believing in
the divine right of your money.

My pals will be here presently – knock knock –
with their methods of persuasion and
the flag they rescued from the dustbin
in which you tried to bury it.

First question they’ll pop
when they see you tied up here
will be toss him in the skip right now,
or lock him in the attic for later?

Knock knock knock

What Did The Politician Get His Wife?
Saturday, 24 February 2018 18:28

What Did The Politician Get His Wife?

Published in Poetry

What Did The Politician Get His Wife?
after Bertolt Brecht

by Kevin Higgins

And what did she get, the girlfriend,
from the student union meeting
at which he rose to his feet
and realised he could speak?
From that meeting she got
the Snickers bar he forgot to eat
so busy was he watching them listen;
and that speech, unabridged,
every other night for thirty five years.

And what did she get, his new wife,
from the time he first used a party
conference microphone to agree with both sides?
Those okay with the Moslems/Mexicans/Gypsies being here,
and those who want them kept over there.
From that microphone she took away their
invitation to dine with the Deputy Mayor
and his not new wife.

And what did she get, his no longer new wife,
when, at the second attempt,
he won that seat on the City Council?
From his election she got to drink Pinot Noir
and go swimming in their private club
with the no-so-new wives
of those who got the contracts
to make the paving stones and install
the pay-and-display ticket machines
during his years as Chairman
of the relevant committee.

And what did she get, his well-maintained wife,
the night he was elected to the big shiny
parliament? From that night she took away
an architect to re-design their new three storey pad
in the priciest possible part of the capital,
and an article about herself
in the Daily Express lifestyle pages.

And what did she get, the no longer new MP’s
no longer new wife, the morning
they made him Minister?
That morning she got to go horse riding
with the Leader of the House of Lords’
fourth (or fifth) wife.

And what did she get, the no longer new
Cabinet Minister’s wife, the night the landslide
made him Prime Minister? That night
she got to hold to her breast
invitations to break foie gras
with the Sultan of Brunei, the President of China;
and the chance to write husband’s speech
announcing the crackdown on beggars
who accost hard working
families who stop to ask for directions
en route to the nearest funeral parlour.

And what did she get, the ex-Prime Minister’s
no longer new wife, from all the depleted uranium shells
he had dropped during the Battle of Basra, all the soldiers
he sent to meet improvised explosive
devices in far Mesopotamia in the hope
of getting rid of something bigger
than the beggars and prostitutes
at Kings Cross. For these she got
white night terrors
of him on trial for all their crimes,
and the desire to never again
look out the front window of their fine
Connaught Square house
at the tree from which, it’s said,
they used to once string

Here's Ken Loach reading part of the poem and talking about the suspension of Kevin Higgins from the Labour Party. Higgins was suspended in June 2016, but now it looks as if he's unsuspended and is in the members' database again, although he hasn't been notified about it.

Higgins says: "It appears the boys and girls of the fantastically named 'Compliance Unit' at Labour Party Headquarters have decided that the case against me is too silly. But they don't want to tell me this in writing, as this way they retain the option of deciding, at some later stage, that I am guilty after all. On finding himself, at one stage during his varied career, imprisoned in a castle in Romania, the literary critic Georges Lukacs is said to have said that Kafka was a realist after all. It is a tragedy for world literature that Mr Kafka never got to exchange emails with the Labour Party Compliance Unit."

What Put The Diamonds In Your Owner’s Wife’s Ears?
Friday, 12 January 2018 15:13

What Put The Diamonds In Your Owner’s Wife’s Ears?

Published in Poetry

What Put The Diamonds In Your Owner’s Wife’s Ears?
after Bertolt Brecht

by Kevin Higgins

You clean-collared columnists
should first help us fix the basic roof-over-head
dilemma, before penning your next sermon.

You shower, who preach careful now
and always know your own exact bank balance,
what is this mature democracy towards which you sweat?
Without a door I can safely lock behind me
to keep your pity at bay, civilisation
doesn’t even begin.

First bring to those of us who get by on Supermacs
our own mahogany table and a big, silver knife
with which to cut the turkey and ham into manageable slices
(with a vegetarian option for those so afflicted)
and answer us this:

What put the diamonds in your owner’s wife’s ears?
Or the Prince Albert ring in her boyfriend’s willy?
The fact you’re in there polishing phrases
and we’re out here in the undemocratic rain
which everyone – from the Primate of the Church of Ireland
to the Council for the Women of Consequence – agrees
must never be allowed to land on you,

this is what keeps pinning diamonds
to your owner’s wife’s sad little lobes,
and puts the ring that winks up at her
in her boyfriend’s knob.


The World Transformed, Brighton
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 08:49

National Poetry Day: Ciúnas/Quiet

Published in Poetry

after Camillo Sbarbero

by Kevin Higgins

Ciúnas, sad person, these are the great
days when one must speak without whining.
The children of the long political sleep forced awake.
Like a vine heavy with grapes in peak season,
laughing at its own potential riches,
I don’t think I shall die again
and now know I did not die before.

Walking the public squares together again,
everyone clicking our picture,
I am there with you even when
three hundred miles away
on enforced holiday,
or home unable to get up for
lack of the necessary breath.
I am drawn to the recognised face
in the crowd, checking itself
in the shop window,
stunned to find itself here again.

At the pinnacle of a familiar song
sung anew, or the glimpse on a passing
TV screen of a pale boy being
what I once was, tears,
and my eyes relit with old light.
Because the permafrost I thought my lot
gives way, and the Earth shifts as it must,
I am like an old loudspeaker with a new battery
switched on after years in the garden shed.

Back there, I must not go,
as there’s nothing but vacated spiders’ webs
and the ruins of lamps and lawnmowers.

Kevin Higgins, one of our sharpest and most prolific contributors, has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, see here.

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed
Thursday, 22 December 2016 13:58

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed

Published in Our Publications

Poems by Kevin Higgins

£5.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) 48 pp ISBN 978 19074641889

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed is political poetry of the highest order, telling truth to power and poking fun at it at the same time, artistically deploying a profoundly moral sense of justice and truth to expose lies, evasions, greed and sheer stupidity.

Kevin Higgins, like Bertolt Brecht, has a gift for exposing the hypocrisies and deceits which are inevitably generated by a political culture which ignores, denies or seeks to legitimise the legalised robbery that passes for capitalist economic arrangements. And like Brecht he does it in a wickedly simple, accessible, entertaining style.

“Ireland’s accomplished political poet and satirist”,
- Diarmaid Ferriter, The Irish Times

“I read this twice. Now, will make a coffee and read it again.”
- Gene Kerrigan, The Sunday Independent

“Likely the mostly widely read living poet in Ireland”,
- The Stinging Fly magazine.


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