Back when we had only
the occasional old five pound note
invested under our long suffering mattresses,
in the golden age of scurvy, typhus, plague
there was always something fatal
to take the frail off our hands
at hardly any expense to anyone,
bar the price of digging the grave.
Now, some scientist comes flapping daily
from the laboratory to declare another bastard
disease sadly no longer incurable.
The long term cost of all this
getting better will be our ruin.
The future we offer you will be short
For starters, every cup of tea will be tested
to ensure it contains appropriate levels
of the deadlier strains of E-Coli.
Those suffering from cardiac
arrhythmia or elevated blood pressure
will be taken off all expensive medication,
and shouted at three hours a day
by unemployable sociopaths,
so happy at the hint of a job,
they’ll work for nothing.
From his or her fortieth birthday onwards
asthmatics, and those with chronic
bronchitis, sarcoidosis, and cystic fibrosis
will receive no treatment at all,
unless they agree to immediately
take up smoking.
Those with Crohn’s disease, IBS,
or colitis will be force fed three loaves
of slightly stale bread
until they stop complaining.
Everyone availing of our public health system
will be subject to random spot checks
on their way to work, to make sure
they’ve gobbled their daily ration
of fat only yoghurt.
Schoolteachers will be empowered
to wire children judged too thin
up to the school sugar pump,
until they have expanded sufficiently.
Those who, despite all this,
insist on turning seventy five
will be tickled to death with feather dusters,
they will be expected to supply themselves;
their laughing corpses dumped
in the nearest river to further
infect the water supply.
Over the next five years,
we will replace the costly chaos
of our hospital system with the eternal calm
of the graveyard.
Of Course They Know It’s Christmas
(after Midge Ure & Bob Geldof)
It’s Christmastime; and there’s every reason to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let the light love us and we banish shame
Down our streets of plenty we can spread the smirk of money
Throw your arms around a former bass guitarist
Whose name you think is Chris at Christmastime
But ping your pennies at the other ones
In the long line outside the foodbank
As you drive loudly past
In your silver BMW
Because it’s better than paying tax
It gets hard, though not as hard as it used to, when you’re having fun
With a reupholstered former model who claims to be a cousin
Of General Pinochet’s personal physician
There’s a world outside your triple-gazed PVC window
And it’s a world of fear and hate
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting
Of an accountant from Penge
Peeing on rough sleepers
Because his train is late again
We could’ve kept our enormous
Mouths shut, or had the good taste
To be found dead in suspicious
Circumstances at least a decade ago
Instead we offer
A bunch of rock stars who’d be forgotten
If it wasn’t for this old song
And the alarms that go off there
Are the clanging chimes of private property
Well tonight thank Lucifer it’s them instead of Bono
And there will be ice in sleeping bags this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is death
Remind them that it’s Christmastime
In case they missed the ads
Pro Choice Protest in Merrion Square, Dublin 2 during the Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion last September
Irish Government Minister Unveils Monument to Victims of Pro-Life Amendment
On a date to be confirmed,
when those who remember 1983
will sleep safely in their graves,
or be anxiously telling nurse
about the auld ones with crucifixes
they think are coming to get them
a girl, today
on holidays from primary school,
by then grown into
a Maggie Thatcher suit, will thank
the Chamber of Commerce
for use of their microphone
as a pulled chord unwraps a figure
chipped from stone
of those forced
to change trains at Crewe clutching
solitary suitcases that screamed
one night only,
those that bled out in the backs
of London taxis after journeys
made possible by post office accounts
and extra hours at the newsagent’s;
all because of a stick
which, for them, turned
the wrong colour
the wrong year
in the wrong country.
And as the Minister continues,
across the road a little girl will grab
her mother’s arm and ask:
what’s that lady saying?
All I want for Christmas is a bio
of Bertolt Brecht, and to see
a neo-classical economist
lowered into the nearest available
All I want for Hanukkah is Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England,
and legislation to allow the landlord
be restrained with bailing twine
in his own garden shed
‘til he agrees to reduce the rent.
All I want for Eid is a performance
of The Three Penny Opera in our living room,
and a world in which every child is given,
free of charge, a hot water bottle fashioned
from a former Minister for Housing’s bladder.
All I want for Diwali is Hugh MacDiarmid’s skull
so I can share a whiskey with it of an evening, and Sophie
Scholl’s, or failing that, Arthur Scargill’s backbone
so I can use it to publicly disembowel those
who come out on Facetwit for repealing
the Eighth Amendment the day after
we vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
All I want for the Tool Box Killer’s birthday
is to personally fix a scold’s bridle between
the Editor of the Daily Mail’s clacking jaws
(and up any other part of him in danger of talking)
and to live to see the Crime Correspondent
of the Sunday World finally sent
to landfill for journalistically pleasuring
one Chief Superintendant too many.
But, I say to you tonight, my fellow silver chins of every imaginable orientation, let us not dribble too long down the gully of despond.
Though we now face the catastrophes of others with equanimity, I once had a dream. A dream whose roots stood frailly, but proudly, in the droplets of Royal County cow dung sent by God the Mother, Auntie & Uncle as a sign to confirm how impressed the average orthodontist in the greater Navan area is with how far I as a country have come.
When I was growing up you weren’t allowed to be cross-eyed. Now I can look at you whatever way I want, and I’m a country at ease with having as its temporary head god a homosexual of Indian extraction who secretly thinks all the screaming injustices in this amazing country I have become could be sorted by allowing a free market in the fingernails of the indigent so we can develop an environmentally friendly alternative to ivory.
I had a dream, dear investors in this frantic little country I have become, that one day homeless thirteen year olds would sit trying to understand the practical application of Pythagoras’s Theorem and who was who in the War of The Roses while younger siblings shrieked their times tables on temporary mattresses whose stains have paid for themselves many times over.
I had a dream that one day, in the amazing country I always planned to grow up to be, little black boys and girls would spend years at the breakfast table with a peculiar bloke from Azerbaijan and in the process fatten the owner of the draughtiest hotel in town before eventually being allowed to pass go.
I had a dream that one day Californian Turkey Vultures, with offices in the Virgin Islands, would be invited in by the Department of Finance to usefully pick clean unnecessary flesh from the skeletons of rough sleepers and be able to claim tax relief for the upkeep of their beaks.
I had a dream that one day every pit would open its jaws wider, and quietly clear its throat before swallowing many of you, that every mountain would be made more exalted and that on each peak, from Mount Errigal to the McGillycuddy Reeks, there’d sit a guy like me telling Ryan Tubridy how he (or she) once had a dream.
Adhering to recent Arts Council guidelines,
we are adjusting
our corporate governance structures
to include more criminal psychopaths
and people who just don’t know what they’re doing
per capita than are allowed exist
wherever the average eejit gathers
to do his or her thing.
To this end, and furthermore, to help me,
I mean ‘us’, avail of the expertise
of those with experience running the real economy,
I am appointing to my board a man
with a wide-brimmed felt hat
who has supplied political and business
conferences down and up the country
with all levels of women.
To assist in the enforcement area
we are anointing a bloke who for our purposes
will go by the name “Anto”;
who may have unexplained income
about which the Criminal Assets Bureau
would love to have a chat
but that is none of my business or,
if you know what’s good for you, yours.
Finally, from next month
the skeleton of a different one
of David Loyd George’s mistresses
will sit in on each of our meetings
to advise on social agility.
In the income tax arena
I am introducing a scheme:
whereby a fifty year old man
living in, for example,
Galway, will still be able to claim
for his increasingly rickety right knee
here in Ireland, but allowed register,
for tax purposes,
his far more profitable left leg in Jersey.
He’ll be able to claim relief here on his wonky eye
but will only have to pay tax on the good one
at whatever the rate is in Luxembourg.
His three sets of dentures, all twenty six
fillings and those two root canals
will continue to be deductible here,
though he’ll now pay tax
on what’s left of his actual
teeth in Bermuda.
The good fifty percent of his lungs
he’ll be allowed set up
as an independent company
in the British Virgin Islands,
while the useless half will legally
continue to be Irish.
His nausea will remain ours,
though his enormous appetite
will now officially live on the more
glutton-friendly Isle of Man.
His beleaguered liver will continue
to be officially resident here,
while his still superefficient
bowels will spend enough time in Switzerland
to pay (hardly any) tax there.
The scar above his left buttock,
acquired when he toppled through a glass door
backwards, circa nineteen seventy three,
will continue to be deductible here,
while the balance of his bum –
in surprisingly good condition for a man his age,
though he says so himself – declares
its vast income at an office
in Wilmington, Delaware.
Elsewhere, I am extending the relief on brown leather
trousers and industrial strength lawnmowers
for fat couples with Anglo-Norman sounding names
in the better bits of Kildare for another five years.
There is agreement across the political consensus
it’s essential such people are given sufficient incentives
to keep doing whatever it is they supposedly do.
Any Resemblance to a Minister for the Environment is entirely coincidental.
The clasp of his handshake once reassured
he’d not disappoint their daughters.
And though his infrastructure’s
in desperate need of an upgrade,
he’s confident he can get his
waterworks fit for purpose,
ladies and gentlemen, here tonight,
and those at home
watching on TV, sometime
within the next twenty
five years. And if doing so
every last rain drop,
from Bellmullet to Garryduff,
at a savage discount, to the guy
who despite his wallet’s ongoing
morbid obesity, has hair
that looks like it’s been stuck
to the skull with Evo-Stik,
then Kelly’s the kind of pragmatist
who’ll make shit like that happen,
whether anyone asked
it to or not.
His tongue rough
as the carpet in a room
where Stevie Coughlan
once talked against the Jews.
For the past six months,
every erection he’s had
has been a member
of the Heavy Gang
about to throw a Provo
onto the railings
from a Garda Station
second storey window.
According to recent polls,
in certain areas of Tipperary,
he’s only slightly less popular
than Richard the Third. At least
half a percent less hated
than this time last week.
Of unequivocal victory,
he has no alternative
but to be certain.
Saint is a new poem by Kevin Higgins dedicated to the “black babies wing of the Irish left, those who, to paraphrase GK Chesterton, are so busy loving humanity they can never find the time, or the inclination, to show solidarity with their next door neighbours.”
Because the progressive faction of the Magdalene Sisters
were no longer taking applications,
you instead tour the better fed Gender Studies Departments
of the Eastern Seaboard, preaching
your gospel of the little brown victim.
With the shrunken head of a Native American, ripped
from its original owner at the Battle of The Rickety
Left Elbow; the eyeballs of indigenous Bolivians
which have seen versions of Strictly
Come Dancing we can only imagine;
or, more prosaic days, with the rudely
annexed canine teeth of Palestinians,
which you carry about the place in a glass jar
you had specially made by a mate in Kinvara
who’s also a part time Shaman, you tickle
the consciences of those who think
life’s all olives and Pyrenees sheep brie,
and in return they titillate you
with all the fine cheeses.
For you are toast of the third world
liberation wing of Galway Lawn Tennis Club.