Tag Archives: Poetry

Remains of the ‘Castle Folly’ at the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home

“Maintenance work” began two weeks ago on a stone structure, known locally as the Castle Folly, which backs onto a burial plot on the grounds of the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork.

Last month, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation had examined the home’s burial plot but had not conducted a geophysical examination of the site.

Further to this…

Ghost of Castle Folly

I should have left here long ago
I should have gone away
The cloth and gown have torn me down
A sorry thing to say
My walls were tall they kissed the sky
Below they kissed the clay
Evicted by those “Sacred Hearts“
Now I must go away

Hark, listen to those distant sounds
My ancestors in song
Their carriages and sailing boats
Once here have long since gone
Gone off to find another shore
Where they can be and stay
I must be off and follow them
I must be on my way.

Alas when I have reached that land
A far and distant shore
My ancestors will welcome me
And take me in for sure
The news that I relate to them
Will shake them to the core
You tore me down and slaughtered time
My walls they stand no more

John Gibbs

Previously: Meanwhile, At Bessborough

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
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

From the the official State book to commemorate Ireland’s first Dáil 100 years ago

The Poet Geoff writes:

I was asked to write the poem to commemorate the first Dáil in Ireland by The Lord Mayor. It was a real joy and a privilege to have been asked to create for the occasion. I hope you enjoy it. I thought you might like this given the day that’s in it.

The Poet Geoff

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



By Colette Colfer (above)

I am a woman, how do I know?
Because my body tells me so
I’ve a womb and ovaries, a breasty chest
I’ve carried a baby in my belly nest
I am milk, I am blood
My diploid cells are double X

But what is a woman?
Can we illuminate the detail?
Would you agree that it’s a noun
Meaning adult human female
Where female is a basic
Biological distinction
That’s used in both the plant
And the animal kingdoms.
The female produces
The larger gamete
But these need the male
To make reproduction complete

So female and male
Are a complementarity
A holy grail
Of unity, polarity
As day is to night
And yin is to yang
As black is to white
Woman is to man

Oestrogen testosterone
X and Y chromosomes
Each cell of our body
Is stamped with our genome

These cellular differences
Have a wider significance
Influencing personality traits
Life experiences, interests.
Less women than men
Are in engineering and mining,
Bin collection, construction,
Fishing, truck driving

It’s only women who’ve experienced
Down through the centuries
FGM, menstruation huts,
Magdalene laundries.
In countries where fornication
Is still considered a crime,
It’s the woman who’s punished
Far more of the time
You can never tell by looking
If a man has had sex

But you can with a woman
Because she carries the egg
And pregnancy is a visible sign
That can result in honour killings,
Imprisonment, honour crimes
Meanwhile the man has to deal with
Paternal uncertainty
So the pressure’s on the woman
To be a virgin, to live chastely

There have been changes
With industrialisation
Contraceptives, technology
We now have gender quotas,
Women’s toilets, changing rooms
Women’s sports and awards
And all-girl schools
At the same time we have feminism
And hashtag me too

Does it really matter
About the words that we use?
Some say woman
Is not about biology
That a woman can be a woman
Regardless of physiology
That it’s nothing to do
With the production of eggs
And it’s completely independent
Of what’s between a person’s legs

That ‘woman’ is identity
And how a person feels
It’s femininity, hair styles
Mascara, high heels
Manicures, blusher
Lipstick and dress.
Can you still be a woman
If you don’t shave your legs?

What’s the point anymore
In sex-segregated spaces
When males can now access
Women-only places?
This year a male won a women’s
World championship cycling race
A female boxer fought a male woman
And ended up with 7 staples in her face

Males can use women’s shelters
A male has won ‘Woman of the Year’
But women are being told
There’s nothing to fear.

Languages evolve
And meanings can change
But biological differences
Can’t be erased

People will just come up with
Different words and labels
To distinguish the differences
Between males and females
Some say we should say ‘womex’
To get rid of the men
Some say ‘people with a cervix’
Or there’s ‘pregnant people’ as well

There’s also ‘uterus havers’
‘Birthers’, ‘gestators’
‘Ovulators’, ‘bleeders’
Or my favorite – ‘menstruators’.

I am a woman, how do I know?
I am
Because my body
Makes it so

Colette Colfer

Thanks John Gallen

In fairness.

Erin Fornoff?

The recreation of a defensive barricade in Aleppo, Syria erected last year at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Berlin Aleppo

I’m a Dublin dog
Barking mad
The sky ripped with Chinese explosion
I’m a cat in Idlib
howling at the bloody moon
crisscrossed by irate fighter
I am a Raqqa rat
Loving it!
Glad we stayed
Unlike Aleppo foxes scuttling away
Some now thinking of return
We hear
But to what?
Fleeing over greedy land, heartless sea, bitter border guard and always the indiscriminate baton
The chorus:
”Fuck off home’
Angry spitting crowds bearing batons.
Cowering, why why enough enough
Others came with care and clothing
To be fair
And we were suspicious
cos they sought nothing in return.
Suspicious of kindness
But not far the noise, the noise
‘FUCK OFF HOME’ they roared
‘Where is my home? Do I have a home?’ my friend asked.
Then he went into the trees
Into the silence
Then in the quiet of night
A small window lured him
Into the still grand life of Berlin’s fabled Pergamon
There inside:
Ancient Aleppo
Before the dust
In all its quirky courtyard beauty
before the mosaic of madness
My dusty ruined friend
Here you are now .
Here we are now.
Both you and I together at last
at this forbidden time
This city that knows the destruction of ours.
I lie down and weep.
Amongst our pristine beauty
My roars, my tears, my howls, my art, my city, my country!
Roar as alarms shriek across Berlin city
And here some will say no gratitude
Other will pray for salvation.
Pray for salvation.

Kevin Barrington

Kevin Barrington

Pic: Getty

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


A Prayer For The Pope on His Arrival In Ireland

As you munch the tarmac
At Dublin Airport
Arse in the air
May you be shafted
Then and there
By a rampant pink bear
One cassock-slashing
Pelvis-cracking thrust
For every child your church
Tore to shreds
Reduced to quivering dread
Or left for dead…

May you be thrown back
On your plane
And flown to The Hague
To face trial for the plague
Of vicious misery
You inflicted on your flock
With evasions so vague…

Get in the dock Pops
Swear on the bible
The truth the whole truth
And nothing but the truth
So you and your paedophile
Stormtroopers at last
Face your victims
To confess to aplogise
To compensate and exorcise
The demons of your disgrace
Before being dragged to the cells
And left to rot in your Rome-made Hells

Roddy McDevitt