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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.

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



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.

The Roscommon evictions: Leader of Irish Government Speaks Out Against Hyperbole
Saturday, 29 December 2018 12:05

The Roscommon evictions: Leader of Irish Government Speaks Out Against Hyperbole

Published in Poetry

Leader of Irish Government Speaks Out Against Hyperbole
after William Shakespeare

by Kevin Higgins

There has been much hyperbolic comment of late
about the admittedly rather sad case of a man
who had his new corneas removed
by two blokes from Lithuania
or Neilstown (somewhere like that)
because he fell behind with the payments.

I had one of my interns watch
the video of the action those men took
to recover that part of his eyes a judge
ruled belonged to the company
on whose behalf they were acting,
and though the defaulter - I mean man - in question
has my sympathy, particularly regarding
the apparent lack of anaesthetic,
think about it this way:

every time you see one of those
click bait headlines about a tragic
granny who had her new heart ripped
back out and the papery old one reinstalled
by a team of cut-price cardiologists
appointed by an esteemed
judge whose daddy bought him a law degree,
because she spent all her pension on scratch cards,
it’s an example of the market
and rule of law weaving their magic,
as Adam Smith intended.

To let old ladies we all know, and sympathise with,
off paying for their new tickers
when they have insufficient funds to meet
the direct debit would be the ruin
of our financial institutions
and put us as a country in breach
of the rules of both the World Trade Organisation
and European Court of Justice.

So, next time you read about a child
with profligate parents who this Christmas was made hand
a transplanted kidney back
to its rightful owners, the bank of wherever;
remember, it’s just
our free economy doing shit it must.

For some background, see here and here.

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.

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