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,

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 15:23

The Sudden Thaw And What It's Doing To You

Published in Poetry

The Sudden Thaw And What It’s Doing To You

by Kevin Higgins

At the finish of the recent ice age, when
history suddenly wasn’t over anymore,
and another future began to be written;

you were the first daffodil to push its face
up through earth frozen twenty five years,
before those with stronger stems followed
to better face what the wind would bring.

Today, you’re outraged the resurrected
Allende didn’t consult you on his media strategy
while the coup plotters where bombing
the Presidential palace from the air, though all
the while you left your smart phone on
to take his call.

When the new round of mechanised killing
really gets going – somewhere near Calais,
or due south of Budapest – you’ll make
a latest video for The Guardian,
speak earnestly to camera
about the appalling roughness of some
of the lavatory paper there,
and post it on Twitter.

Can’t be easy
when no one but you gets;
we’ll only defeat great evil
by taking it out for coffee
and seeing its point of view.
Over the years you become its new
more persuasive face.

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 14:34

Coup Plotter's Elegy for Self

Published in Poetry

Coup Plotter’s Elegy for Self: to be read in the voice of Owen Smith MP
after Chidiock Tichborne 

I offered them free ice cream
but they would not eat.
I kept pulling the trigger,
but the gun kept jamming and he would not die.
My voice is lost, and I have repeatedly
said nothing in interviews I’ll spend
the rest of my days paying people to forget. .

My prime of career was but a rickety bicycle
with two punctures and no saddle.
My victory feast was but a prehistoric sponge cake
and a plastic cup of lemonade gone flat
during the Labour government before last.
My bunch of grapes, fresh from the vine,
was but a bowl of diahorhea.

My left wing rhetoric was but an ill-fitting codpiece.
This disco’s over and I have not scored.
My leadership prospects are but a lock-up garage full of
unsaleable t-shirts and ventriloquist’s dummies
that look like more authentic versions of me.
I’ve tried sleep but the dream’s always
I’ve mislaid my boxer shorts
and my tie’s on fire.

Chidiock Tichborne joined the conspiracy known as the Babington Plot, which aimed to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot was foiled, and Tichborne arrested. His poem ‘Tychbornes Elegie, written with his owne hand in the Tower before his execution’ was enclosed with a letter to his wife Agnes, despatched from the Tower of London on the eve of his execution for treason. Owen Smith unsuccessfully challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the British Labour during the summer of 2016 and went on to be the answer to a pub quiz question.

Sunday, 25 September 2016 14:18

Olive Branch: On The Divine Right of Honourable Members

Published in Poetry

Olive Branch: On The Divine Right of Honourable Members

for the Parliamentary Labour Party

Hardly any of us wish you dead.
The decapitation machine (pictured) is mostly metaphorical.
We have no immediate plans to place
your severed heads – eyes and tongues protruding wildly –
in a line along the railings outside Westminster
or leave them there for the next
twenty years, as a warning to others.

It’s just we think many of you would benefit
from six months working part time
minimum wage in a home for cancer
patients who refuse to wear pants;

a year or two of Sunday
mornings scrubbing clean the back seats
of the inferior sort of taxi
hoping you’ll eventually be taken on
another day a week;

or five years carting what appear to you to be
the same set of boxes round and round a warehouse
in one of the less cosmopolitan bits of Walsall,
working a guaranteed minimum of no hours a fortnight;

to help you adjust to the new
undeniable: after years when – in your
Alexandra Wood supreme bespoke suit –
you ruled;

you’re no longer even on the committee
organising your own destiny.


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 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.

A Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 14:23

A Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability

Published in Poetry

A Regressive Centrist Speaks Electability

by Kevin Higgins

“Imagine if a huge new influx of Labour members gave a mandate to a progressive, centrist leader who could win an election.”

- Caitlin Moran

Our plans for you
will be enthusiastically endorsed
by the popular musical group
Coldplay, and some comedian once considered
edgy. To make you like us even more

every August thirty first, we’ll re-enact
the crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales.
Our leader’s reaction to camera
will be so perfect
it’ll bring a tear to your jerk.

We’ll employ a team of pale thin advisors
to ascertain what our opponents hate –
beggars, Latvians, adolescents… –
be against such things too
before the enemy get around to issuing
their bastard press release.

We will make sure
Police Special Branch shoot
no more Pakistanis
than absolutely necessary
in the circumstances
we hope, with your support,
to create.

 Kevin Higgins has just been suspended from the Labour Party, see

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 19:32


Published in Poetry


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.

Edmonton Jewish Cemetery, 1990
Monday, 02 May 2016 07:30

The Head of Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger

Published in Poetry

Kevin Higgins, then a member of Militant, was involved in organising a demonstration on Sunday, June 3rd 1990, and a subsequent public meeting, to protest against the daubing of swastikas on headstones at the Edmonton Federation Jewish Cemetery in North London. Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger did not turn up.


The Head of Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger

“Some of this [anti-Semitism] existed, probably within Militant,
for those of us old enough to remember all that.”
- Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger, Newsnight, 27th April 2016

It’s talked its way in and out
of so many TV studios, people have long since suspected
it’s battery operated, but no one can find the off switch.

It’s here tonight to tell us
that those who marched that lost Sunday against
the swastikas daubed on Hebrew headstones at Edmonton
were secretly in league with Adolf Hitler.

Her head showed its solidarity more subtly
by spending the day the traditional way,
having its hair reconfigured at one
of the most progressive salons in London.

It’s one part Polly Honeybee of The Guardian,
two parts retired Archbishop of Canterbury.

It’s spent so long inhaling
the emissions of Earls and Dukes,
it can no longer distinguish
down from up, in from out;
problematic when giving its congregation
advice on family planning.

It’s living proof government must act now
and build a secure facility to detain former
Liberal Democrat members
of the House of Lords.

It wouldn’t know an anti-Semite
from a Sumo wrestler, and finds
it saves time to presume
anyone who disagrees with it
is most probably both.


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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