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.

What They Don’t Know Is
Friday, 03 January 2020 09:41

What They Don’t Know Is

Published in Poetry

What They Don’t Know Is

by Kevin Higgins

That this cannot be avoided by everyone wearing protective glasses.
That the contents of their half-full cups are about to evaporate.
That the University will remain closed until further notice.
That Kim Kardashian’s arse has been abolished.
That the idea of tomorrow is suddenly quaint as a dinner plate made in West Germany.
That the price of house insurance just went up ten thousand per cent.
That the lack of reception on their mobile phones isn’t because they’re going through a tunnel.
That even the hairstyle of the Fox News anchor woman is no longer perfect.
That Adolf is now the second most hated politician in history.
That the station at which this train terminates no longer exists.
That the priest who’ll give them last rites is just a guy in an outfit
his brother recently wore to a fancy dress.
That God is a skeleton who knows everything and will one day talk.

Author's Note:

I got the idea for this poem while walking through the grounds of our local hospital, just behind our house, the week after Donald Trump was elected. I looked at the apparently solid buildings and the normal life going on all around and thought: none of this is guaranteed to continue. A world war which would bring buildings like these down and put a stop to what we think of as normal, everyday things is now entirely possible. The image is Napalm, by Banksy.

Tiocfaidh Do Lá
Tuesday, 24 December 2019 09:52

Tiocfaidh Do Lá

Published in Poetry

Tiocfaidh Do Lá

by Kevin Higgins

Dear great-uncle-in-law in Larne,
who secretly thinks people should cease picking on the poor
Duke of York. You punched the air so vigorously
the night Doris Johnson won his victory and proper
order was temporarily restored that your wife was about to
speed-dial the cardiologist when you finally drifted
on your latest new sofa to your recurring night fret: how will
the united Ireland the papers say all this
makes more or less inevitable
pay for my pension?

Short answer: it won’t. Though worry not,
there’ll be plenty of gainful work
for buck-eejits like you: painting road-signs in Irish
in the likes of the Shankill and Ballymoney with the giant
can of extreme green spray paint
that will be provided.

Your induction day task,
that first Monday morning, to daub
Liam of Oráiste on the statue
of King Billy at Carrickfergus
under the bespectacled eye
of a trained Gaelgeoir, there to ensure
you restore – though a few centuries late - the fada
they stole off the ‘a’ in ‘orange’.

Author's Note: In this poem a fictional narrator living in the Republic of Ireland addresses an entirely fictional elderly in-law who lives in Northern Ireland and is from a protestant, unionist background. All of the towns and districts mentioned are staunchly unionist (sometimes called loyalist). The fictional in-law in question is a big fan of Doris Johnson (and bad things generally) at least in theory. But said fictional in-law is worried that Doris Johnson’s political wrecklessness might lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom and a united Ireland which he worries might not be able to pay his pension.

The poem’s narrator decides not to assuage his in-law’s fears because he doesn’t think people who cheer on upper-class psychopaths deserve to be reassured. One of the key issues preventing a restoration of devolved government in the northern part of Ireland is the fact that the DUP have resisted an Irish language act which could mean, among other things, that all road signs and public notices would have to be in both English and Gaeilic. “Liam of Oráiste” is the Gaelic translation of William of Orange; a “Gailgeoir” is an Irish-language enthusiast (some would say fanatic); a “fada” is the Gaelic equivalent of the French accent which appears, for example, over the “a” in “Oráiste” to indicate a vowel should be pronounced long; “Tiocfaidh Do Lá” means ‘your day will come’ and is a play on the traditional Irish Republican slogan “Tiocfaidh Ár Lá”, which means ‘our day will come’.

Backlash
Wednesday, 18 December 2019 14:19

Backlash

Published in Poetry

Backlash by Name
after Nina Simone

by Kevin Higgins, with image by Martin Gollan

The moment you grow too sure
he sends the world into reverse;
one by one, begins taking back
your Christmas presents and keeps
taking until you have less
than you had December the first,
the year you were born.

He stuffs you into the boot of a car
and drives you
backward many miles until you’re further
from your destination than you were
the day you started out.

He gives you back
all your illnesses at once
but lets you keep the side-effects
of the poison that was going to fix you.

He rents a skip for outside
what was once your house;
lets local children put you
and your opinion
of yourself in it.

He makes your mother
drag herself up out of her grave
and bang the table
as she tells the committee, no
she never heard of you.

National Poetry Day: Deliberately Offensive Truthful Song
Tuesday, 17 September 2019 09:24

National Poetry Day: Deliberately Offensive Truthful Song

Published in Poetry

Deliberately Offensive Truthful Song

by Kevin Higgins


A street performer shall not act, say, do or sing anything
likely to cause alarm, distress or offence to any member
of the public, business owner, the Council, or any member
of An Garda Síochána.

- Galway City Council bylaw as of 2-1-2020

Despite the Alderman, his head a sweaty pink moon,
who wanted travellers castrated,
or at least kept behind an electric fence.

Despite the former Mayor who liked to taste
the thighs of teenage boys in a local pub’s
musty meeting room and wore
his ceremonial robes while doing it.

Despite the motion you passed overwhelmingly
against contraceptive devices and students
engaging in sensuality without responsibility.

Despite the fortune one of your number got
from coffin ships his grandfather
profitably fed to the starving
Atlantic sharks.

Despite the “dastardly” Rising
at whose failure you rejoiced and the diamond
welcome you gave Edward the Seventh.

Despite the lines of white powder expertly
inhaled off a professional lady’s
clavicle which none of your number
knew anything about.

In truth,
you are inoffensive as a fairground
run by defrocked priests in grey raincoats;

In truth,
inoffensive
as a former Mayor owning
a seafront casino that took
the pensions of passing widows,
the disability benefits
of bald guys with the shakes;

In truth,
inofuckingffensive
as a line of giant white puddings
who’ve calamitously been
let talk.

The new law comes into force the day after Galway becomes European City of Culture 2020. For further details see here.

 

Fintan O'Toole
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 10:03

To The Man Who Defines Ireland

Published in Poetry

To The Man Who Defines Ireland

by Kevin Higgins


When telling us, as a nation, to cop on to ourselves
you spit the words Provo
or workers’ paradise like a lady
trying to rid her mouth of sour milk.

But your voice is church bells and sunshine
pouring down on Kingstown Harbour, circa 1913
when you put your tongue across the syllables
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

The greatest thing to come out of Crumlin
since the curried chips
that made a young Phil Lynott
question his lifestyle choices.

You are as politically and philosophically serious
as a Second Division footballer’s fashion sense,
circa 1977; or a stockbroker last seen exiting
a high-end house of great repute
wearing a thirteen-gallon hat;
or a guy in a white linen jacket
who’ll end up wandering O’Connell Street
shouting against Home Rule.

And without you, we’d not be ourselves.
For you are our national anticonvulsant
without which we’d be in danger
of actually doing something.

See here.

Waiting for Boris
Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:52

Waiting for Boris

Published in Poetry

Waiting for Boris
after Constantine Cavafy

by Kevin Higgins

What are they waiting for,
the archbishops and casino owners
clutching their bags of cocaine,
the barman at Wetherspoons eyeing the clock,
and the little people who live
in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s top hat
who’ve been watching things
go slowly downhill
since thirteen eighty one?

Boris is to arrive today
in a chariot driven
by a man with syphilis.

Why so few new laws
up for debate in the House?
Why do the Lords seem happy
to lie about the place waiting
for aneurysms to take them,
without even the energy
to pay their assistants
to give them one last beating
with Daddy’s bloodstained walking stick?

Because Boris arrives today
wearing an eye-patch he borrowed
from Madonna.

Why should the Honourable Member
for Cambridgeshire South bother
crying her usual tears?
Boris, when he gets here,
will have everyone except himself in tears.

Why do the Chairs of Select Committees
race up and down Whitehall
wearing only ceremonial dicky-bows
quoting passages from the Magna Carta
and the new Ann Widdecombe cookbook
into the surprised faces of tourists?

Why have the Speaker of the House
and Lord Privy Seal exhumed
from Westminster Abbey the bones
of Alfred Lord Tennyson
and dragged them to a cheap hotel near Waterloo
to engage in a rattly threesome?

Because Boris arrives today
and approves of such things.

And why doesn’t the Office for National Statistics
give us the latest disastrous news?
Because Boris arrives today
and is bored by people who can add and subtract.

What does this sudden outbreak
of accountants and High Court Judges
vomiting on each other mean?
How grey their jowls have grown.
Why have all the escalators stopped moving?
Why all the red buses crashing into the Thames?

Because the clock has rung
and Boris is not coming.
Some journalists formerly resident in Hell
but now working for the Telegraph
have been sent from the frontline to confirm
there is no Boris.

And now what will we become
without Boris?
We must urgently set about inventing
some other catastrophe
to rescue us from ourselves.

The Restoration
Monday, 03 June 2019 13:53

The Restoration

Published in Poetry

The Restoration

by Kevin Higgins


Election results tumble in,
like pinstriped clumps of hairy bacon
being lowered via giant mechanical arm
into a fizzing Jacuzzi
to be congratulated by the media
who have long since discarded their G-strings.

Things as they used to be
have been pasted back together,
or almost, like a vase broken during an argument
or a marriage in which both parties
have agreed to pretend.

Right-thinking people will have restored to them
the right to their old wrongs
and for the first time be permitted by law
to order children’s teeth on Amazon,
to do with as they wish in the privacy
of their vastly worthwhile lives:

for example
fashion them into impromptu dentures
for their Julian Assange effigies,
or offer as mints to those who got unlucky
and now mess up the pavement
by living on it.

Five sizeable middle-aged gentlemen were recently elected as Fianna Fail councillors for Galway City Council. Fianna Fail are the party who led Ireland into the banking crash, and they now support Leo Varadkar's minority government. As you'll see from the photo, they are generally quite well fed.

 

On the birth of Prince What's-His-Name
Monday, 06 May 2019 18:08

On the birth of Prince What's-His-Name

Published in Poetry

On The Birth Of Prince What’s-His-Name
before Carol Ann Duffy

by Kevin Higgins

Receive this boy-child, world,
to pursue him about the pages
of the tabloids and glossies that were
his granny’s premature end.
Under the sign of the Express,
and Nicholas Witchell of the BBC, we conspire
for him a life of turning up to declare
things that would’ve opened or closed anyway
open or closed. We beseech the gathered
spirits of Fanny Craddock,
Lord Denning, and Sir Patrick Moore
that he exhibit no more
fascist sympathies than absolutely necessary,
and no more casual hatred of the Irish
than the late Princess Margaret.
Oh ghosts of Edmund Burke
and Lady Jane Birdwood we beg
you allow the mob disturb not one follicle
on this particular head; and ensure he’s never led
down to the basement by Bolsheviks,
even in the unlikely event of a Labour government
that actually keeps its promises.
We ask God, as Michael Heseltine and
Julia Hartley Brewer understand him,
to arrange for this child a life
of tennis, polo
and knowing as little as possible.

Listening Exercise
Thursday, 28 February 2019 09:57

Listening Exercise

Published in Poetry

When the Independent Group (Chuka et al) broke away last week, John McDonnell said that the Labour Party needed now to conduct a "massive listening exercise."

Listening Exercise
after John McDonnell

When you paint hatred on my garden wall
and front door, I will read your words
with great interest.

When you try to burn my house down
I will listen to what the flames are saying.

Every lie you tell against me
I’ll help you spread
by earnestly, and in detail, answering your questions
about it over and over again.

When you burst through my living room door
with a chainsaw intended for me,
I’ll pour you a nice cup of tea
and say: let’s talk about this.

When the tumours come for me
I’ll know their opinion must be taken
absolutely on board.

And when the beetles and bacilli
begin to consume me,
I’ll realise I’ve long seen
their point of view.

Franz Magnitz Lied
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 14:18

Franz Magnitz Lied

Published in Poetry

The latest squib from Kevin Higgins follows these events  and is a re-write/parody of the Horst-Wessel song, see here.

Frank Magnitz Lied*
after Horst Wessel

by Kevin Higgins

We button tight our leather breeches.
We prance down Friedrichstrasse, everything clenched.
Our comrade, Frank, laid gloriously low on the car-park concrete
by what we’re calling “a piece of wood over the head”;
likely dreaming, as he tends to, of leathering
the flesh clean off Geli Raubal’s blessed bones.

Parties across the consensus have united to condemn
this assassination attempt that wasn’t.
All they wanted was his handbag.
Clear Nordstrasse for the march of our sore backsides.
Vacate the Autobahn for the coming storm
after the beer we guzzled last night.

Revenge must be had for this attack
Frank cannot now remember. From this day forth,
we’ll annually lay a wreath to mark the moment
Frank heroically booked himself out of hospital.
Please give generously, for the time of bondage will last only
as long as one can pay the Fraulein to dress up as Geli Raubal.

Meantime, we wobble in formation
around St. Peter’s Cathedral,
croaking out our song:
for they are the bacteria
of which we will wipe clean the world.

*Lied is German for song

 

Frank-Magnitz-Lied

von Kevin Higgins; Übersetzung: Sven Kretzschmar

Eng knöpfen wir unsere strammen Lederhosen.
Wir stolzier’n die Friedrichstraße runter, verbissene Mienen, Hintern zusammengekniffen.
Unser Kamerad Frank wurde glorreich niedergestreckt auf dem Parkplatzasphalt,
angeblich mit einem Brett vorm Kopf – vermutlich erwischte ihn wohl ein Kantholz;
wahrscheinlich träumte er wie schon öfter davon,
Geli Raubals gesegnete Knochen zu züchtigen.

Die Altparteien sind geeint
in der Verurteilung des Mordanschlags, der keiner war.
Alles, was die Täter wollten, war seine Umhängetasche.
Die Nordstraße frei dem Marsch unsrer wunden Gesäße!
Räumt die Autobahn für den aufziehenden Sturm –
nach all dem Bier, das wir letzte Nacht gekippt.

Wir wollen Rache für diesen Angriff,
an den Frank jede Erinnerung fehlt. Von diesem Tag an
legen wir jedes Jahr einen Kranz nieder, für den Augenblick
da Frank sich heldenhaft selbst aus dem Krankenhaus entließ.
Bitte gebt reichlich, Kameraden, denn die Zeit von Leder und Fesseln dauert nur fort
so lange wir Fräulein bezahlen können, sich als Geli Raubal zu verkleiden.

Derweil schwanken wir in Reih und Glied
um den St. Petri Dom herum,
grölend erschallt unser Lied:
Denn sie sind die Bakterien,
die wir vom Angesicht der Erde fegen werden.

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