Tag Archives: Kevin Higgins


Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

A poem ‘dedicated is to all those in the Irish Green Party who think coalition with Micheál Martin might be just the thing to ward off the global apocalypse’.

Common Sense Climbed Out of the TV the Other Night

And sat beside me on the settee,
its shirt white, its manner mild
as an unsugared cornflake.

Confident as a New York Times Op-Ed
written by God.

Thought provoking in conversation
as a dinner party at which
the main course always tastes
suspiciously like Melvyn Bragg.

I could see from its resumé
it was well thought of by those that matter
like a Hampstead charity shop
in which Joan Bakewell
is now available free of charge.

Though it kept trying
to avoid catching my eye,
when it did, the shiver I got
told me it would be supportive,
when the going got hot,
as a crutch made of butter.

Later, it climbed into my computer
where its tweets against the turning world
looked like they’d been typed in the day room
of a care home for former provosts
of Queen’s College Oxford.

It expressed itself with such authority
I had to test its advice by taking it.
And it turned out to be as sensible
as running through a forest fire
in a grass skirt.

Kevin Higgins



Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2

Given my already compromised lungs – I have a condition called Sarcoidosis, about which I contributed this to the Irish Times health supplement, – I have now been told to cocoon which raises many issues, some of them comical…


The advisory booklet says,
because my rubbish lungs
and the compromising position
in which my immune system finds itself
put me among those most likely to expire,
my wife and I must, for the duration,
remain at least one metre apart
and I shouldn’t wander
beyond the front garden
except for my weekly safari
to put out the bins.

If she has an itch,
it’s okay for me to scratch
her back with the sweeping brush
without the written permission
of a Garda Sergeant.

But if she kills me
for talking too much, as she likely will,
the Minister for Justice
has signed an order requiring her
to do so with a twenty eight inch shotgun
(with which she will be provided)
or at the very least a regulation length
Samurai sword. It won’t be pretty.
But neither, the booklet assures me, am I.

Meantime, there are other possibilities:
couples such as us
are still legally permitted
to do things to each other
with a Marks & Spencer cotton dishcloth attached
to what looks like a mop handle;
or by making imaginative use
of a retractable ostrich feather duster.

I worry it could lead
in the long run to her coming
at my most vulnerable bits
with the hedge clippers;
and where would I be then?
Though the cat assures me:
I’m there already.

Kevin Higgins


Outside the Mater Hospital Dublin

Death Bed Amends

Long I’ve wanted to see you thrown
from a helicopter into a muttering volcano,
or have my people do things to you
with electricity and enthusiastic Alsatians,
but I never had the cash or necessary contacts
in South American governments of the nineteen seventies
to make it happen.

I contented myself with knowing
you’d one day come
because your conscience was gnawing the remains
of what, for argument’s sake,
we’ll call your soul.

I’d greet you,
once you were close enough,
with a scalding
pot of tea or cup of suspiciously warm
homemade “apple juice” across, hopefully,
the gob.

But now both you
and your conscience
can pop in to watch me cough –
though visiting hours are, naturally, restricted –
safely forgive yourself
through all that bastard glass.

Kevin Higgins


Newly-elected UK Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer

The Advent of Mr Nothing

All the messiahs safely crucified;
the choice again, as it should be,
between the Imp of All Lies
and Mr Nothing.

We’re again outside the padlocked gate.
Should anyone think of scaling the wall,
the garden is now patrolled
by wolves with orders to dine first,
be exonerated in the inquiry later.

Those who shouldn’t be in jail
are that bit more securely there.

Those who sleep in doorways
that bit more completely know their place;

those who own islands
are that bit more secure in theirs.

Celebrity paedophiles chuckle
to themselves in their graves.

And the Brigadier General
can unclench in the knowledge
his plans for the war after next –
nowhere you’ve heard of yet –
will be given a white-toothed
statesman-like Yes.

Kevin Higgins


Howth Harbour Howth, County Dublin looking toward Ireland’s Eye yesterday

The Survivor

When the last weather forecaster has died
spluttering live on air
and the TV’s just ads on a loop for things
there’s no longer anyone around to make;
I’ll appoint myself chief pathologist
for there’ll be no one else to do the job;

start slicing each of you open,
squash your lungs into a jar
intended for mayonnaise,
plop your eyeballs into one labelled
pickled onions, cut your livers out
like the butcher used to
when there were still butchers
and the liver wasn’t yours;
write down for my own benefit
my findings:
where you all went wrong.

Kevin Higgins

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

You not here
to not know what
key goes in what lock;
to tell not exactly the truth
about who said what to whom;
to spend the whole first day
of the January sales
examining tea towels
you end up not buying; to notice
I’ve not yet mowed the lawn,
to not know when
the oil will run out, or have
a plan B, or a good word
for your enemies; to send me out
at four in the morning in search of
cigarettes; to stand smoking
by the kitchen window and say
this didn’t happen; to smirk
and tell the world
moving furniture was never his thing
the day I do my shoulder in
carrying your coffin.

Kevin Higgins

From ‘The Ghost in the Lobby’ (Salmon Poetry, 2014).

Of The Coming Plague

I ask nothing
but that I be allowed go out and get it.
Better death than suffer
the interminable sobbing of newscasters,
the grimaces of sweating experts,
and politicians’ elongated
gobs, which keep moving
in the hope the blame
will be stapled elsewhere.

I’ll tour the town’s mortuaries
and kiss on the mouth all the corpses
that died of it. Before you ask: yes,
there will be tongues
which I’m told will feel
like cold, stiff slugs.

And if that doesn’t finish me,
I’ll start breaking into hospitals,
quarantined night club toilets,
the offices of eminent plastic surgeons
to lick clean the soap dispensers
which, by then, will be all out of soap
but alive with the world’s germs.

For, Death, what do I know of you,
never having died before?
You’ve had a terrible press,
but could be victim
of the smear campaign.

Perhaps you’re the best thing ever.
Like the first gulp of Champagne;
or all the orgasms I’ve ever had,
and a few I never managed.

Kevin Higgins


US Democrat Presidential candidate hopefuls Bernie Sanders (left) and Joe Biden. Voters go to the polls tomorrow to decide 14 ‘Super Tuesday’ states

Confession of a Realist

A realist about other people’s lack
of toasty winter coats,
I expect them
to be realistic about my 401k;

in the context of which
I’m realistic about Lockheed Martin’s
need to add to their stockpile of
Dollars by finding more
brown people to liberate
by setting their countries
on fire.

I expect the brown community
both internally and out foreign –
with the absolute exception of those
on the Democratic National Committee –
to be realistic about the limits of
my love for them.

Realistic about low-end people
with terrible teeth
and the need for political candidates
with impossibly white smiles;

like everyone else here
I’m wildly for, in theory,
hospital beds for everyone
but realistic about a certain per cent of relatives
going to DNA stained motel rooms to end things,
when the chemotherapy bills come in.

I beg of you, put Bernie Sanders aside
or, if necessary, to death
and be realistic about the need
for a certain per cent starvation
to oil loose the markets.

When I think of all I sacrificed to sit
behind quadruple glazed windows
trying to watch a film:
‘Mephisto’ or ‘The Discreet
Charm of the Bourgeoisie’,
my phone being pinged all evening
by messages from work;

I grow more and more realistic
about how difficult it is
for the electricity company
to have to switch
other people’s lights off;

but know some people are
just better off in the dark.

Kevin Higgins



In fairness.

Earlier: A Limerick A Day

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (left) has agreed with the assessment of Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan that the IRA never disbanded and Sinn Féin is run by the ‘army council’.


The Continuing Story of Óglaigh na hÉireann

All around the snot-nosed parishes of Ireland
small people of both genders, and neither,
are flapping open
copies of The Sunday O’Duffy
getting worried
about the continued existence
of the Citizen Army, Fenian Brotherhood,
Official IRA.

We can’t have
parties who perspire to government
secretly controlled by cabals
of men (and ladies) whose faces
we never see; apart from those
faces prescribed by prevailing winds
and the agreed rules
of the European Union,
which we need never see
but rest eternally assured
are there. Or thereabouts.

The only weaponry allowed
those seeking elected office
are five piece suits to help little
men appear substantial,
and no more than six
plastic chairs on which the faithful can
every other month gather
to recite the Our Father,
or discuss the rising
price of sewage. Even

the Social Democrats must come clean
about the continued non-existence
of their army council, and what role precisely
Fintan O’Toole plays in its
military high command.

A mature democracy like ours
needs parties whose manifestos
political correspondents
with excellent haircuts (and none) can safely
spread across their living room floors
and roll around naked on
without fear of being interrupted
by men and women wearing
illegally held

Kevin Higgins

Previously: Drew The Same Conclusion


Sinn Fein’s newly-elected TDs on the plinth at Leinster House yesterday

The New Rising Will Not Be Available Later On The RTE iPlayer

(after Gil Scott Heron)

There will be no avoiding it, gobshite.
You will not be able to log on, click like and see both sides.
It will interrupt your plans for a gap year in Thailand,
or to skip out for a wank during the new Guinness ad.
The new rising will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.

Because it will not be suitable for children
or county councillors of diminutive stature who might find it
by accident on the internet while trying to hire
a hitwoman or a dominatrix in the greater Ballyseedy area,
or open an offshore account on the Aran Islands.

The new rising will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.
Will not be presented by Joe Duffy
in four parts with every possible intrusion
from people trying to sell you bits of Allied Irish Bank
or butter that’s more spreadable than Ebola.
The new rising will not show you pornographic clips
of Micheál Martin blowing the biggest tin whistle
in recent Irish history and leading a charge by Eamon
Dunphy, and all the assembled wise men of Aosdána
on the kitchens of the Shelbourne Hotel.

It will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer
or be brought to you by the Abbey Theatre
not Waking The Nation. It will not feature
guest appearances from Princess Grace of Monaco,
Graham Norton, and Bono’s old sunglasses.
The new rising will not give your Danny Healy Rae
blow up doll sex appeal. It will have no advice
on how to reduce the size of your moobs
overnight in the greater Cootehill
area by just dialling this number.
It will not try to sell you
travel insurance every time you buy
a bus ticket to anywhere in Sligo.

There will be no pictures of you, Mary Kennedy, and Daithi
Ó Sé pushing shopping trolleys around Supervalu
in aid of Children In Need, or trying to smuggle the body
of Ann Lovett onto a flight to Medjugorje
in aid of CURA. The new rising
will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.
Harry McGee’s haircut will not be able
to predict the result by midday the following day

based on reports in now from 43 constituencies.
And it will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.
There will be no pictures of well ironed Garda uniforms
dangling known subversives out high windows
in strict accordance with the law.
There will be no pictures of Joan
Burton and Katherine Zappone being run out of Jobstown
in the extreme discomfort of cars paid for by you.

Whether or not Louis Walsh dyes his
pubes will no longer be relevant. Nobody
will care if Paul finally gets to screw
everyone on Fair City, including
himself, because the small people
will be in the street turning on the sunshine.
And this will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.

To assist the re-education of those
who insist on just watching it on TV,
the Angelus immediately before the Six One News
will be replaced with smoking videos
of outgoing cabinet ministers
at length (and with great enthusiasm)
feasting on the more excitable parts
of Apple CEO Tim Cook.
For in the new jurisdiction
the powers that were will be made admit
their true religion, and then set free.

There will be no lowlights on the nine o’clock
news claiming there was hardly anyone there.
The theme song will not be written by Phil Coulter
or Dustin, nor be sung by Linda Martin, Westlife,
or Foster and Allen. And it will not be available later
on the RTE iPlayer.

It will not be right back
after a message from an actor in Killinaskully
you can’t quite name promising to kill
99% of known bacteria, including those
that’ll make Michael O’Leary’s ass eventually decompose.
The new rising will hand the Lewis sub-machine gun
to you, your increasingly discontented cat,
and your most eccentric auntie.

This rising will not be available later on the RTE iPlayer.
This rising will be live,
gobshite, live.

Kevin Higgins