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, www.bogmanscannon.com.

Wat Tomson MP: A Heroic Ode
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 20:39

Wat Tomson MP: A Heroic Ode

Published in Poetry

Wat Tomson MP: A Heroic Ode

by Kevin Higgins

Less a man than flesh materialised
around a pair of black rimmed spectacles
stolen from the still warm corpse
of a discredited French intellectual.

Beloved of moderate trade unionists who aspire
to cross picket lines to attend
all-expenses-paid conferences on the fight
for income unhappiness held
in the mini-bars and bathrooms
of top hotels in Bromsgrove;

and future failed parliamentary
candidates for Birmingham Ladygarden
with no detectable personality
who dare dream of firing intercontinental
penis enlargements manufactured
in their own constituencies
at goats up mountains in Somalia
from warships floating
in their kitchen sinks,

though even they prefer the sight of you
pleasuring your glasses
first softly with your left
then with your preferred
hard right hand

to the dread thought of what your gut’s
doing to all the pies and ice cream the tax-
payer keeps shovelling
down the blathering hatch
in the bottom half of your face,

because when that blows
we all go up with it, and the world’s
pebble-dashed the worst
shade of brown.

Tax: an extract from Michael Noonan's next budget speech
Thursday, 06 April 2017 14:45

Tax: an extract from Michael Noonan's next budget speech

Published in Poetry

from Tax
after Michael Noonan.

In the income tax arena
I am introducing a scheme:

whereby a fifty year old man
living in, for example,
Galway, will still be able to claim
for his increasingly rickety right knee
here in Ireland, but allowed register,
for tax purposes,
his far more profitable left leg in Jersey.

He’ll be able to claim relief here on his wonky eye
but will only have to pay tax on the good one
at whatever the rate is in Luxembourg.

His three sets of dentures, all twenty six
fillings and those two root canals
will continue to be deductible here,
though he’ll now pay tax
on what’s left of his actual
teeth in Bermuda.

The good fifty percent of his lungs
he’ll be allowed set up
as an independent company
in the British Virgin Islands,
while the useless half will legally
continue to be Irish.

His nausea will remain ours,
though his enormous appetite
will now officially live on the more
glutton-friendly Isle of Man.

His beleaguered liver will continue
to be officially resident here,
while his still superefficient
bowels will spend enough time in Switzerland
to pay (hardly any) tax there.

The scar above his left buttock,
acquired when he toppled through a glass door
backwards, circa nineteen seventy three,
will continue to be deductible here,
while the balance of his bum –
in surprisingly good condition for a man his age,
though he says so himself – declares
its vast income at an office
in Wilmington, Delaware.

Elsewhere, I am extending the relief on brown leather
trousers and industrial strength lawnmowers
for fat couples with Anglo-Norman sounding names
in the better bits of Kildare for another five years.
There is agreement across the political consensus
it’s essential such people are given sufficient incentives
to keep doing
whatever it is they supposedly do.

In this poem the author has a premonition of Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan's next budget speech. The philosophy behind this budget speech has been a great success all around the western world and is, for example, essential to Richard Branson's ability to buy an island so he can invite Barack Obama and his wife Michelle there on holiday and then share the photos on Twitter to show what a cool guy Richard is, despite the awful service Virgin Trains provide.

It should also be noted that the author lives in Galway and was fifty recently. Happy birthday Kevin!

Heavy Clogs
Monday, 06 March 2017 14:53

Heavy Clogs

Published in Poetry

Heavy Clogs

by Kevin Higgins

I’m the local schoolmistress
who worked hard to know
the zilch I knew about this.

I’m the Department Inspector
who remembered
the questions not to ask.

I’m the concerned citizen who never
heard their heavy clogs go,
by forced marches, up the Dublin Road.

I’m the editor of the Tuam Herald,
who talked instead about
the Pope’s visit.

I’m the Government Minister whose pink skull
baldly admired the particular yellow
of the roses by the newly whitewashed wall,
and thanked the nuns for their work.

I’m the County Councillor concerned
about the cost to the ratepayer
- per skeleton - of piling that many small ones
of whom no one had ever heard

into a disused hole in the ground
- one big concrete sarcophagus -
no one knew anything about.

An Irish government inquiry last week admitted that the remains of 796 infants and toddlers have lain for decades at the site of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co. Galway in unmarked graves. Many of the bodies are believed to have been buried in a disused septic tank. When local amateur historian Catherine Corless broke the story in 2014, Irish Times journalist Rosita Boland, PR guru Terry Prone, former intellectual Tom McGurk (and other assorted apologists for things as they are) all leapt forth to say that it was most unlikely that such a thing could possibly have happened. But it did. The home was operational between 1925 and 1961. It’s believed some of the bodies may now be under houses built locally since the home closed. 

The translation of Bon Secours is 'Good Help'.

KH tuam 1

 

 

 

 

Choctaw Village by Francois Bernard, 1869
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 20:29

Pictures of Unfamiliars

Published in Poetry

Pictures of Unfamiliars
after Carolyn Forché

by Kevin Higgins

Beamed into one’s living room via satellite,
or framed in syndicated photographs
on the quality papers’ foreign pages, even
their black or missing front teeth
have a strange beauty.

The shanty town dwellers of La Paz,
in their hand-woven red and green ponchos,
carry themselves in a fashion
which puts to shame the post office queue
scraggy mother of two, with change
in her slovenly wallet for lottery tickets,
but not shampoo.

Nothing against the locals.
But the skeletal Colosseum cats have a grace
which the one I ran over on my way
to this morning’s Amnesty
International meeting absolutely lacked,
even before my brand new
Goodyear Assurance tires ironed flat
its entirely unremarkable pelvis.

The ongoing pain of the Yazidi women
and the entire Choctaw nation (every generation)
is best struggled with over a Fairtrade salad
in one of the more radical tea shops
on Sandymount Strand.

In comparison, one admits,
our local Others – with their dole
day drunkenness, and lack of imagination
which has seen them prosaically wander the roads
these past thousand years – just
don’t cut the whole grain mustard.

When they start mouthing Civil Rights
and municipal water cannon, or
police batons get over enthusiastic
on their irresponsibly positioned skulls,
people like me will feel forced to pass by
on the other side, checking our messages
for pictures of unfamiliars being
deliciously maltreated
anywhere else.

Note: Poet Carolyn Forché wrote a poem titled ‘Against Forgetting’. She also co-edited the excellent anthology Poetry of Witness but forgot to include any poems by Native American poets because there were, apparently, no poetic witnesses to the genocide of the Native American people to be found in the United States of America, the country in which Carolyn Forché lives.

Cool Britannia
Saturday, 28 January 2017 17:52

To the Former Times

Published in Poetry

To The Former Times
Golden ages never last…So enjoy it while it lasts. Because it won’t.
- Charles Krauthammer.

Let it be always 1997;
magic Diana from her tomb
and down the red carpet in
something devastating –having deftly
reassembled her skull –to deliver
a Champagne stained rendition
of Candle In The Wind,
accompanied on grand piano
by an equally undead
Gianni Versace.

Centrosensibilism was the dance
crazing the nightclubs. By decade’s end
we were all doing it,
especially me. Years when ‘progressive’ meant
stamping on potential
beggars who’d long inflicted their
antisocial mind-sets on residents
of marginal constituencies, such as Milton Keynes.

Give us back those sacred hours
when one’s colorectal area could be safely
sold off to a public-private partnership,
who’d also bought up most of
the railways in Eastern England;
and everything kept moving
in the usual way, or appeared to,
with just a little less bureaucracy
than in the days of British Rail.

The last coalminer had been liberated
to answer phones
that would eventually be relocated to India.
The future had revealed itself,
and it was this. Peace
breaking out everywhere,
except there, there,
and there. Oh former times!

We so enjoyed the taste of you
we’d make political love to anyone,
who by adjusting the set
slightly, would make this boo boo better.

1997blair victory

 

The Thing from Planet Gove
Thursday, 19 January 2017 08:46

The Thing from Planet Gove

Published in Poetry

The Thing from Planet Gove

by Kevin Higgins

Its handshake is that of a slightly disreputable funeral director.
Its eyes those of an opinionated alligator
that sometimes reviews opera in the London Times.
Its mind is a free trade slaughterhouse, busy
making mincemeat, as cleanly as possible,
of other people’s children, bony old parents
and the occasional small business person
who was just wrong place, wrong century.

But its regular appearances on TV impress
the sort of people who have sexual relations
with their cars. Or their neighbours
cars. The female it dreams of is
Rupert Murdoch’s more withered sister
who lets it stand on its tippy-toes in a tutu
inherited from a former grandmother
who was briefly a dowager Duchess
until the unfortunate headlines
made her true position undeniable.

And it is written in Scripture
that at a time such as this
a thing such as this
would ascend to Earth and give us –
leaving god aside for the minute –
proof of Satan’s existence.

On the Departure From Office of Barack Obama
Tuesday, 03 January 2017 21:32

On the Departure From Office of Barack Obama

Published in Poetry

On The Departure From Office Of Barack Obama

You are the bed we’d happily have slept in,
if only we’d managed to assemble you
but there was always a bit missing.
So you forced us to spend the night
admiring the pictures in the brochure.

The exquisite wrapping
on a box with zilch in it
except a mildly amusing joke
you had written for you
but delivered with such charisma
it set people whispering
that you’re the political wing
of Earth, Wind, and Fire
without the heavy ideology.

The skinny kid
with the funny name who dared
hope in the face of adversity
and on your watch
Wall Street got the biggest
hard-on in its history
and you kept feeding it
interest free Viagra.

For the rest of us
you’re the medicine
that tasted excellent
until we woke up almost dead.

Of Course They Know It's Christmas
Friday, 23 December 2016 21:37

Of Course They Know It's Christmas

Published in Poetry

Of Course They Know It’s Christmas
after Midge Ure & Bob Geldof

It's Christmastime; and there's every reason to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let the light love us and we banish shame
Down our streets of plenty we can spread the smirk of money
Throw your arms around a former bass guitarist
Whose name you think is Chris at Christmastime

But ping your pennies at the other ones
In the long line outside the foodbank
As you drive loudly past
In your silver BMW
Because it’s better than paying tax

At Christmastime
It gets hard, though not as hard as it used to, when you're having fun
With a reupholstered former model who claims to be a cousin
Of General Pinochet’s personal physician
There's a world outside your triple-gazed PVC window
And it's a world of fear and hate
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting
Of an accountant from Penge
Peeing on rough sleepers
Because his train is late again

We could’ve kept our enormous
Mouths shut, or had the good taste
To be found dead in suspicious
Circumstances at least a decade ago
Instead we offer
A bunch of rock stars who’d be forgotten
If it wasn’t for this old song

And the alarms that go off there
Are the clanging chimes of private property
Well tonight thank Lucifer it's them instead of Bono
And there will be ice in sleeping bags this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is death
Remind them that it’s Christmastime
In case they missed the ads.

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.

 

An Appeal to Potential Asylum Seekers By Order of Her Majesty’s Government
Monday, 12 December 2016 12:06

An Appeal to Potential Asylum Seekers By Order of Her Majesty’s Government

Published in Poetry

An Appeal to Potential Asylum Seekers
By Order of Her Majesty’s Government

by Kevin Higgins

The desserts of Vienna are creamier
than is the case in even
the better bits of Leeds or Swansea.
Their trams turn up when they’re meant to,
which is hardly ever true
of an outskirts-of-Great-Yarmouth Saturday night,
except when Prince Edward is dying,
re-marrying, or giving birth,
and there’s an Ian Stuart Donaldson concert to celebrate.

Also, we think it important we clarify:
Hugh Grant is not a real person.
So, there’s no point coming here
in the hope of making him
your husband, or even,
your wife.

Contrary to reports in the popular press:
our social security is in fact rubbish.
And we’re working hard to make it worse.
You’ll toil all the hours picking
shells off a beach in the dark;
or clean a pretend bank
for less per week than
Andrew Neil pays to have
his back waxed.

And you’ll have nowhere to live,
given our plan to gift
the last council house to former
model Jerry Hall
for rest and recuperation
the day after she’s taken annually
by Rupert Murdoch, as she’s now
contractually bound
to let herself be.

If you stay where you are,
as a gesture, we offer you
Richard Branson. The first forty four
legitimate asylum seekers
to complete the relevant form will each
be entitled to one of his teeth,
for use perhaps as collateral or
as a miniature sex toy –

on condition you remove
it at your own leisure using
the rudimentary
chisel provided.

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