Rita Ann Higgins

Rita Ann Higgins

Rita Ann Higgins is a Galway-based poet and playwright. She has published ten books of poetry.

It Suits a Narrative
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 10:23

It Suits a Narrative

Published in Poetry

It Suits a Narrative

by Rita Ann Higgins

It suits a narrative of the 'big, bad state
and the 'big bad religious congregations',
- Mary Higgins, CEO of Caranua
The Irish Times, March 20th 2017.

Some applicants will never be happy
and grievances suit a narrative,
of the big bad church
and the big bad state
and the big bad building
with the big bad gate.

We ration our compassion,
while all ye say suits a narrative
of the big bad state.

We ration our compassion
but we'll give you a couch.
We ration our compassion
but we'll give you new windows.

We are the keepers
of the churches’ money.
As keepers we divvy and we pay
but not to you directly, we won't give you money
but we 'll give you new teeth
a new radiator, a brand new funeral.
What more could you ask for?

It’s not that we want your pain
to be everlasting,
but by the same token
it suits a narrative for ye
to come on national radio and complain
and say we have no compassion.

We have oodles of it,
but we ration our compassion.
If we give you stuff without humiliating you
it will be no fun at all.

So fill out that form and then fill another
and another and another
and one for your sister
and one for your brother
and while you’re at it
fill one out for your mother.

Don't listen to the guy who said,
criminal records are given out
like holy communion to people in institutions.
We all know he stole an apple
otherwise why would he have been there?

Some applicants will never be happy
and its suits a narrative,
of the big bad church
and the big bad state
and the big bad building
with the big bad gate.

Note: Survivors of institutional child abuse in Ireland have been told that the state organisation tasked with supporting their health, housing and other needs is to wind down from 1 August 2018. 

This poem was first published in Reading the Future: New Writing from Ireland: Celebrating 250 Years of Hodges Figgis.

Interrogation
Tuesday, 31 July 2018 18:31

They Trespass Against Us

Published in Poetry

They Trespass Against Us

by Rita Ann Higgins

The memo said,
get them out of that bed,
Make Lazarus out of the lot of them.
By the head or the knee,
a puck in the back,
a knuckle in the nuts,
a sweeping ankle throw,
but no bruises.
They trespass against us.

Minimum force at all times,
except at tea times,
give them nothing, no tea, no ham,
give them spam.
They trespass against us.

Unwilling or unable
get them out of that bed.
Fed or unfed get them out of that bed,
but no bruises. Infirm or inform
who cares if they’re warm?
They trespass against us.

They are blocking our beds
get them out on their heads
They trespass against us.

Memo meant
for senior management eyes only.
Written by their legal team,
paid to be mean, paid but not seen.
They trespass against us.

 

Women Without Face
Sunday, 06 March 2016 11:11

Be Someone

Published in Poetry

Be Someone

For Christ’s sake,
learn to type
and have something
to fall back on.

Be someone,
make something of yourself,
look at Gertrudo Ganley.

Always draw the curtains
when the lights are on.

Have nothing to do
with the Shantalla gang,
get yourself a right man
with a Humber Sceptre.

For Christ’s sake
wash your neck
before going into God’s house.

Learn to speak properly,
always pronounce your ings.
Never smoke on the street,
don’t be caught dead
in them shameful tight slacks,

spare the butter,
economise,

and for Christ’s sake
at all times,
watch your language.

from The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry.