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 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
traitors.

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

Ciúnas/Quiet
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.

 

I am pleased to congratulate Mr. Trump
Monday, 14 November 2016 17:19

I am pleased to congratulate Mr. Trump

Published in Poetry

I Am Pleased To Congratulate On Behalf Of The People Of Ireland
after Enda Kenny

by Kevin Higgins

Donald J. Duck on his election
as forty fifth, and possibly final,
President of that great entity
traditionally known as the United
States which, admittedly,
by the time he’s finished with it,
will likely be called something else.

In the heat of battle President-elect
Duck has said things
which have left him with bridges to build
with certain people, such as Mexican
transsexuals, and women
who don’t want him,
or anyone politically
associated with him even thinking
about grabbing their
vaginas, or the vaginas of their
friends, mothers-in-law, or
as yet unborn children.

We think today in particular of
Secretary of State Clinton,
though only very briefly,
for eaten parsnips are quickly
digested, and we must move on.
Democracy (and, for that matter,
dictatorship) have their own outcomes.
This being the case, if President-elect
Duck wants to build a crazy golf course
in every front garden on this island,
I will work closely with compliant
urban district councils, sympathetic
journalists, and members of the judiciary
to have the necessary planning
fast-tracked.

And rest assured, every opportunity
that presents itself, either
I or one of my Ministers will be there
to shake his hand,
or any other part of his anatomy
President-elect, Donald J.
Duck, wants shaken.

On The New Parliamentary Rump In The Absence of Mandatory Reselection
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 18:20

On The New Parliamentary Rump In The Absence of Mandatory Reselection

Published in Poetry

On The New Parliamentary Rump
In The Absence of Mandatory Reselection
after John Milton

by Kevin Higgins

Because you have shrugged off all sentiment,
like a convention of businessmen, each in turn,
successfully losing his boxer shorts
at an after party that will, in due course,
be put in the accounts under ‘miscellaneous’;
he who is of sufficient wallet, and ugliness,
to purchase for himself exclusive access
to a slightly soiled Jerry Hall, now raises
you up in his pages, and on TV screens
that answer to him, as the sort of
Lancashire lass or professional Welsh accent
who’s happy to continue to rule on behalf
of those who must rule, even
if the other guy wins the vote,
with his sandals, his allotment,
his mindless allegiance
to those who haven’t had
beef cheek this century,
and won’t be having it
anytime soon, if you
and those on whose behalf
you hope to administer
get your way, as you will,
if insufficient use is made
of liberating axe and guillotine.

 

See http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/conscience/text.shtml for the Milton poem, called On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament.

After the Big Vote
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 09:56

After the Big Vote

Published in Poetry

After The Big Vote
Intellectual Begins To Decompose

by Kevin Higgins

You sit minding that cup
as if it contained, post-Brexit,
the last frothy coffee in all of Brighton.
You’ve the look of
a pretend Elvis Costello,
or the rejected fourth member
of Bananarama.

Your claim to notoriety
that one of the Sex Pistols
once failed to cross the road
to avoid you. Your opinions
what it said in all
yesterday’s editorials.

Your new secret hate
the ghastly Adidas tracksuits of Gateshead,
the sweatpants of Merthyr Tydfil,
for daring to go against your wishes.

Your sneer is a threatened Doberman
with the charming personality removed.
Scientists are currently trying
to bottle your lime-green bile
and make it available on the NHS
as a homeopathic remedy for psychotic
former Guardian columnists.

Your words are the gusts that come out
immediately before
a terrible bowel movement.

Even in the face of bitten
finger nails, the broken hinge
on the upstairs window, and my own
sack load of mistakes,

to be you would be
a fate worse than life.

Kevin Higgins is still under 'administrative suspension' from the Labour Party for writing satirical poems like this. He has also suffered the cruel and unusual punishment of being removed from the Labour International closed Facebook group.

Exit
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 19:32

Exit

Published in Poetry

Exit

by Kevin Higgins

for Darrell Kavanagh in his hour of need

There will be no more thunderstorms
sent across the Channel by the French,
no acid rain floating in from Belgium.
Pizza Hut will offer a choice of
Yorkshire Pudding or Yorkshire Pudding.

You’ll spend the next twenty seven bank holidays
dismantling everything you ever bought from IKEA.
The electric shower your plumber,
Pavel, put in last week will be taken out
and you’ll be given the number of a bloke
who’s pure Billericay. Those used to caviar
will have jellied eels forced
down their magnificent throats.
Every fish and chip shop
on the Costa del Sol will in time
be relocated to Ramsgate or Carlisle.

All paving stones laid by the Irish
will be torn up to make work
for blokes who’ve been on the sick
since nineteen seventy six.
Those alleged to be involved in secretly
making spaghetti bolognaise
will be arrested and held
in a detention centre near Dover. Sausage dogs
will be put in rubber dinghies
and pointed in the general direction
of the Fatherland. Neatly sliced
French sticks topped with Pâté
will make way for fried bread
lathered with Marmite.

There’ll be no more of those new
names for coffee your gran
can’t pronounce. The entire royal family
will be shipped back to Bavaria, with the exception
of the Duke of Edinburgh who’ll be given
a one way ticket to Athens. Curry
will no longer by compulsory
after every twelfth pint of Stella,
which itself will only be available
by special permission of the Foreign Office.

We’ll give India back its tea, sit around increasingly
bellicose campfires in our rusting iron helmets,
our tankards overflowing with traditional Norse mead.

NOTE this poem was written ten days before the referendum. It looks forward to the miniscule England of which Nigel Farage’s damper dreams are made, except for the bit about sending Lizzie back to Deutschland and putting Philip on the next flight to Athens.

Thursday, 02 June 2016 08:54

What I Told the Psychiatrist: a Brechtian poem

Published in Poetry

What I Told the Psychiatrist
after Woody Allen & Julie Burchill

The cat pads downstairs and its claws
take their hate out on me because
he’s been up there re-reading his copy
of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,
which, one of these days, I’ll find
if it kills me, which I expect it will.

Then the wife joins in with an unprovoked
“Are you really wearing that?”
against one of my more
avant-garde jumpers, and I realise
it’s a symptom of her
longstanding admiration for
the architecture of Albert Speer.

And there’s the shop assistant who
by her very body language accuses
me of being a veteran
of Yom Kippur and member
of Israel Military Intelligence,
each time she rings up my
Vichy bottled water.

And those who’ve previously
marched and written against
anti-Semitism but now give
tacit endorsement to the policies
of the General Government of Poland
(nineteen thirty nine to forty five)
by disagreeing with me
about the price of parsnips,
or deciding to support
Leicester City. Worst of all is when

bank holiday weekend traffic
gets suddenly constipated, and some
random driver takes his pain out on me
by mouthing horrible words
through his windscreen
because he knows I’m Jewish

even though no one in my family
ever previously was.

Friday, 25 March 2016 10:10

The Minister for poetry has decreed

Published in Poetry

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed
by Kevin Higgins, after Zbigniew Herbert

That during the Centenary celebrations
in memory of our late revolution,
poets in each of the twenty six counties
from Kerry to Louth
will participate in evenings
of moderation during which even
the moderation will be moderate in the extreme.
Participants will arrive dressed
in their Confirmation suits, or the kind of blazer
one might wear to the funeral
of a much indulged uncle,
when hoping for a mention in the Will.
For poets of the female persuasion
Irish tweed trouser suits
will be provided. Nothing will be said
with which anyone could disagree,
or agree with too vehemently.
Everyone will stand around pretending
to be Seamus, with the best bits
subtracted. The poems we require
are those that instead of embracing
the reader too intimately –
the way couples who’ve just met each other
at bus-stops in Eyre Square sometimes do –
shake your hand limply,
as if about to be interviewed for a position
as an administrative assistant in an office
which specialises in shredding documents
for abattoirs all over the Midlands.
The Minister for Poetry has decreed.

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