Tag Archives: Kevin Higgins

From top: Poet Kevin Higgins; The Morning Star

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.

Kevin Higgins

On Thursday, Kevin Higgins’ poem ‘Listening Exercise’ (above) – concerning the ‘massive listening exercise’ called for by UK Shadow chancellor John McDonnell amid accusations of antisemitism against the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn – was published on Broadsheet, on the UK based site Culture Matters, and online in The Morning Star newspaper.

It was also to appear in the Morning Star‘s print edition last Saturday.

Before some high level politics intervened.

1) E-mail received from Cliff Cocker (Arts Editor of the Morning Star) Thursday, February 28.

Hi Kevin

Timely and spot-on. Will try and get online asap and in paper on Sat.

Cheers

Cliff

2) E-mail received from Cliff Cocker (Arts Editor of the Morning Star) Friday, March 1st, 9.17am

Hi Kevin

Here it is, in print tomorrow. Cheers C

3) Email received from Ben Chacko (editor of the Morning Star) March 1, 1:04pm

Dear Kevin,

I’m afraid I’ve pulled this poem because things are on a knife-edge in the shadow cabinet and at the moment our friends there advise exacerbating divisions would make things worse.

I do appreciate the poem and the many biting poems that you have written for us, but the sensitivities right now mean publishing it in the Morning Star would in our view feed the divisions that the right are trying to exploit.

That doesn’t mean we will stop fighting back against bogus accusations and we will be continuing a robust defence of Chris Williamson and attacks on the so-called Independent Group, but we just feel targeting John in this way now is not the right approach for us.

I hope you aren’t too angry that this time I want to hold back and that you are OK with continuing to publish poetry in the paper.

Solidarity and all the best,

Ben Chacko

Kevin says:

“It is great to know that my poems are being read by member’s of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet. This poem was intended as friendly advice for Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, albeit that it is satirically delivered, as is my way.

I understand the pressures people are under at the moment, and am in no way angry at the editors of The Morning Star for the action they felt they had to take here. I plan to continue published poems in The Morning Star, as I have since they asked me for my satire on Tony Blair in 2015.

I do stand over the poem which I wrote while eating lunch last Friday week in the Arabica Coffee Shop on Dominick Street, immediately before one of my poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre…”

Kevin Higgins

Previously: All Ears

UK Shadow chancellor John McDonnell (right) has called for a ‘massive listening exercise’ amid accusations of antisemitism against the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn (left)

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.

Kevin Higgins

 

Pic: Getty

Along the Grand Canal, Dublin 2 during the 2014 Local & European Election

The Little Elections
after The League of Gentlemen and ahead of May’s local contests

Unlike all other candidates,
I’m very much in favour of dog shit;
have it with everything;
am especially fond of the sort produced by
frightened Rottweilers.
I have the energy, enthusiasm and necessary
sexual appetite to properly
service the people behind doors
I’m knocking on locally.
I’m for more traffic jams
and overweight policemen called
Frank.
I won’t be diverted into talking
about abortion or world war four.
This is a little election for little people.
I’m against nasal congestion
and political reform; have lived locally
for the past half hour.

Our eight year old, Cian,
will support whatever football team
you want him to. I’m against
adverse weather conditions in Salthill;
okay, in theory, with the continued
existence of black people.
I’ve studied transport systems
at Mauthausen, Belzec, Vorkuta; think I know
how to ensure two Ballybane buses
never again come along at once.

Kevin Higgins

Pic by Keith

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Leader of Irish Government Speaks Against Hyperbole
after William Shakespeare

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.

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

Michael D Higgins giving his acceptance speech following the Presidential elections

Kevin writes:

A new poem partly inspired/provoked by Michael D. Higgins’ victory speech in which he spent a lot of time talking about how we talk, but more generally also by those who appear to think that words are more politically important than actions….

Fixing The National Discourse
for an Doctúir Mary McAuliffe

When each adjective, noun, verb,
and swear word
has been put through the purifying machine
we’re perfecting,
those found wanting
abolished by our all conquering delete button;
to safeguard our newfound purity
it will be compulsory for
urban district councils, kindergartens, universities
and non-gubernatorial organisations in receipt
of morbidly obese
public largesse to employ
a pair of performing jaws
from the better bit of town
as Language Ombudsperson
and General Controller of Talk,
to inform you when you’re saying it wrong
and send the offending ex-words
down the U-bend
where they belong.

It will be an offence,
prosecutable under law,
to us the ‘k’ word, the ‘d’ word,
or the ‘r’ word,
even in the privacy of one’s own
mind, except for purposes of historical
study of the political and linguistic
degeneracy of the recent past.

Civil servants will be made read
enough Foucault so they never
inadvertently commit a hate crime
while typing the now traditional
letter of refusal in response to
applications for housing, health care,
welfare…

Furthermore, mention of Led Zeppelin
will heretofore be prefaced
with the health-warning:
quartet of toxic masculinity,
and use of the phrase beautiful blue eyes
accepted as proof of
closet membership of the Ku Klux Klan
by our new non-jury online courts.

As well as having
no effect whatsoever on actual
living, breathing inequality and hatred
for which it’ll be business as usual;
these measures will help us attract
increased foreign direct investment into
our seething little country.

In five years,
ninety percent of you will be working
twelve jobs and paying twice
your monthly income to rent a shed
with a tin roof from the love-child
of Google and the ThyssenKrupp corporation
and be so grateful
you won’t dare spit a nasty word
against anyone.

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

Celebrations two years ago as Galway was declared European Capital of Culture 2020.

The Impresario

His off-white trilby is a confidence trick
to fool the undergarments off
High Court judges’
problem daughters,
though of late it’s stopped conning
anyone except himself.

The glassless brass monocle
he carries about
an opposite eye each day
is as unpretentious
as the collected abstract nouns
of Michael D. Higgins.

His latest round of Irish coffees
is an advance to himself
from the year after next,
which the Arts Council have decided
to know nothing about.

His management skills
are a chair that collapsed
under one of the Sawdoctors,
or was it Mary Coughlan,
being laughed off in a pub
that wouldn’t survive
without its annual subvention
from the Deportment of Kulture.

His eye for publicity
is Kanye West in conversation
with Cathal O’Sharkey.

His sense of himself
is a pair of black shoes,
exquisitely scuffed
and three sizes too big for him.

His man parts are
three historic buildings
next door to each other,
which the City Council
have agreed to pay to have restored
to something like their alleged former glory,
though the start date for this much needed
work has already been put back
several times, and insiders predict
the cost will soar
far above even
the increased budget agreed
at last night’s gathering of the glad hands

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

What Put The Diamonds In Your Owner’s Wife’s Ears?
after Bertolt Brecht

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 those of us who get by on Supermac’s
each 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 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.

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

Survivor of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam Peter Mulryan on  TV4 documentary Fínne which was broadcast last night

Peter Mulryan is 74.

He lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway for four and a half years before he was adopted out.

He spoke about his experience both at the home and his adopted home for the first time in 70 years when he spoke on The People’s Debate with Vincent Browne in June 2015.

Last night, he was the subject of a TG4 documentary Fínne, presented by RTÉ’s Orla O’Donnell.

In it, Peter recounted the abuse he suffered in his adoptive home, his search for his birth mother, finding her in a magdalene laundry and being prevented, by the laundry’s nuns, from taking her out to her own home.

He also recalled falling in love, getting married, having his own children – and seeing his mother smile for the first time while holding one of his children.

Fínne can be watched back here.

Peter’s first request for information from the State about his family is recorded as having been made in 1963.

Fifty-five years later, he’s trying to find out if a sister of his died at the home or was trafficked out of Ireland as a child.

Meanwhile…

This Saturday.

The IF Documentary Festival in Temple Bar, Dublin will feature a screening of the documentary Mother & Baby by Alice McDowell and Mia Mullarkey of Iska Films which will also feature Peter.

Tuam Home Survivors Network

Thanks Kevin

Poet and satirist Kevin Higgins tweetz:

Morning Star letters page August 18th / 19th. I have arrived.

Read ‘Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Dame’ here

Previously: Kevin Higgins on Broadsheet

Pope Francis (left) will visit Knock Shrine (right) during the Papal visit

What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak

We need to get back
to when confirmed bachelors
found their own kind through holes in cubicles
during untelevised All Ireland Finals.
To when there were no government funded
lesbians on display in public parks,
or self-confessed sodomites in the Senate.
To when there was no obscene use for
Vaseline, or sexual intercourse in Headford.

To when no one put Coke bottles
where they weren’t supposed to go.
And there were no automatic
washing machines for women to sit on
when Rock Hudson was unavailable.
To when the Irish people stood
at the end of lanes waiting
for nothing to happen,
which it mostly did.

To when young ones who forgot to cross
their legs at the crucial moment could be put
steam ironing curtains for the golf club, sheets
and pillowcases for your mother’s B&B;
still be safely there eight o’clock
in the evening having hot flushes
the hottest day of that century
to which we must get back.

Kevin Higgins

Pics: Getty