Kevin Higgins: 3 Poems

Our Posh Liberal Friends
for Susan

Whenever I show them the Future,
they refuse it;
say: this future has bad hair,
waves its arms around too much,
is too Jewish,
or not Jewish enough,
too not-a-woman,
or the wrong sort of woman.

This Future has a face that one day
might raise the corporate tax rate
by zero point five percent,
and is a little too insistent
that poor people be allowed live,
give or take, as long as the rest of us.
That sort of thing scares the people we dine with
nights we’re not dining with you.

I ask the barman for more finger food,
picture the ocean raging into the restaurant,
and them still sat there muttering at the chicken goujons:
the people we talk to won’t vote for
such extreme solutions. No one wants to live in Cuba,
one of them says, as she’s washed out the door.

I pray, when all the futures
they’ve turned their noses up at
are safely in the mud
and the men in boots and leather come
to escort us all to the Processing Centre
in the back of a truck
that I be shot, cleanly through the skull, at the front gate,
so I don’t suffer their groans
about the quality of the gruel,
and how that last beating one of them got
was clearly in breach of the Human Rights Act
and worthy of a curtly worded, |
but still civil, letter to The Observer.


For Eros, An Elegy

Her hands are a safety harness
that will not hold you.
The hair on her head is a field
let return to the wild despite complaints
and solicitor’s letters from neighbours.
Her droopy right eyelid is the shutter
on a sex-shop, eager
to close for the  evening.

Her chest is the hills of Clare
inviting you across the bay;
though you can’t swim
and the last boat has left
for the season. Her neck, lips, and ears
are the menu of starters
in a restaurant so fabulous
the security guards are paid a bonus
to eject the likes of you.

Her spine is a repossessed grand piano
you still play to yourself
in your sleep. Her pubic hair
is a lawn you’ll never get to
walk across or break into a sweat
mowing. Her bum-hole is a sweet-
factory you’ll never be allowed visit.
And the cheeks either side of it
smoother than the nectarines
you remember from July. 

Her thighs are piping hot
turkey on the table for Christmas,
though with a far better
personality than your average turkey.
And between them all the oranges
stomach acid no longer allows you to eat.


The Bailiff’s Daughter
after Austin Clarke

When the over-ripe haddock
Stirred in their stomachs
And the whiff brought the bluebottles in,
They say her voice
Was a Kate Bush song shrieked
By a cantankerous priest
With cancer in his throat
And many in the fluorescence
Thought her chin
Too sharp for its own good,
For the house of the bailiff
Is known by the nooses
Locals drape on its hedges
To remind them what’s coming.

Men who had pictured her
During moments of intimacy
And found the thought of her face
A great way of slowing things down
Drank aftershave from tin cans
And loudly said nothing,
The women were sharpening |
Kitchen knives wherever she went –
Like an alarm going off
In the middle of the night
Or a lie told so widely
It elbows out truth,
She was the bitter Wednesday evening
In every week
When your last toe nail went black
And came off in the bath
Just as the boys and girls of the Garda Síochána
Ever so gently bashed down the door.



Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway, Ireland. He has published five full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph (England), The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 is just published by Nuascealta. Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, Ecstatic, will be published by Salmon next summer. 

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