Archive for the ‘Features’ Category
By Kevin Higgins
after Carolyn Forché
Beamed into one’s living room via satellite,
or framed in syndicated photographs
on the quality papers’ foreign pages, even
their black or missing front teeth
have a strange beauty.
The shanty town dwellers of La Paz,
in their hand woven red and green ponchos,
carry themselves in a fashion
which puts to shame the post office queue
scraggy mother of two, with change
in her slovenly wallet for lottery tickets,
but not shampoo.
Nothing against the locals.
But even the skeletal colosseum cats have a grace
which the one I ran over on my way
to this morning’s Amnesty
International meeting absolutely lacked.
The ongoing pain of the Yazidi women
and the entire Choctaw nation (every generation)
is best struggled with over a fair trade salad
in one of the more radical tea shops
on Sandymount Strand.
In comparison, one admits,
our local Others – with their dole
day drunkenness, and lack of imagination
which has seen them prosaically wander the roads
these past thousand years – just
don’t cut the whole grain mustard.
When they start mouthing Civil Rights
and municipal water cannon, or
police batons get over enthusiastic
on their irresponsibly positioned skulls,
people like me will feel forced to pass by
on the other side, checking our messages
for pictures of unfamiliars being
The teenagers we shot yesterday
were shot responsibly through the eye
with plain-speaking dum-dum bullets,
manufactured in Fife, or taken down
with SR 25 sniper rifles flown
heroically in from Orange County.
Many of these so-called protestors
specifically arranged to be shot in the back,
just to make us look bad.
The gas canisters our people threw
were entirely rational, and legal,
like the Boer firestorm the kaffirs
brought down on themselves at Sharpeville,
or the best-of-British ambush
that rubbish walked into at Derry.
The one rogue canister which lost
its mind and finished up in a tent
beside an eight month old baby,
who, sadly, also expired, is currently under investigation
and expects to be cleared of all wrong doing,
unlike the baby who we’ve already found guilty.
There is no such thing as Palestinians.
Just some Arabs who used to live here
and think they still do.
The keys they wave in the air
no longer open any doors.
They are a rumour you foolishly believed,
now we’ve moved our eternal capital
to what used to be
their front room.
The minute I’m appointed Minister
for Justice, Broadcasting, and Espionage,
I’ll send forth a decree
making it criminal, and punishable
by being made sit forever
on a bus that never leaves
Kinnegad, to make any further mention of
It will be an offence
to download any part of Miriam O’Callaghan
from the internet.
Furthermore, any computers or
smart-phones found to contain pictures
of Miriam O’Callaghan
will be broken up
lunatics with specially made
hammers my Department will
provide them with.
The Armed Response Unit will begin
raiding houses known to contain back issues
of the RTE Guide disfigured
with her image.
It will be a crime even
for you to read this poem,
or, technically, for me to have written it.
If reading this poem in the printed version
be sure and eat the paper it’s written on
and that all of it has passed successfully
through your digestive system
bcfore you’re arrested.
It is written that the traditional,
who herded us of old
would be traded in
for the one who calls himself
Lion; is in the gym
every a.m. by six, furiously
admiring his pelt
of pure gold.
That a man whose political base
was two elderly brothers who both ate
their excessively buttered spuds
off the same cracked plate
to save on the washing up;
would make way for a guy
who eats his artisanal
cauliflower and pickles
off a bespoke slate
his assistant happily carries
everywhere on his behalf.
And when the word was made reality
the people and their gods
saw it was progress to be rid
of a rural accent best suited
to pub chat about the match
between Galway and Mayo
and before this progress
we bowed and gave thanks.
Far better that next time the person in charge
is forced to broadcast from his (or her) life boat
to tell us that, sadly, we’re all dead,
it be done by one who in the womb
was already solving complex accountancy conundrums;
whose first words were “team of management consultants”
when, about half an hour ago,
he emerged to general applause.