The Minister for Loneliness — a poem by Kevin Higgins

Image: Jaymo.
Image: Jaymo.

The Minister for Loneliness

By Kevin Higgins

First day behind my hugely plausible new desk
I will begin making secret cash payments
in paper bags that smell of donuts
to all citizens – upstanding and not – on the strict
condition they sign this twelve page contract
agreeing to henceforth avoid the likes of you.

On my watch the only job you’ll get
will be nights guarding the hugely valuable
glass and steel of an empty office block
in a city where no one wants to know you.

Romance, for you, will consist of regular visits
to the launderette in the hope
there’s someone there to talk to.
But even the lip-sticked lady who sits there
most of most days, crocheting
tea cosies and sharing her arthritis,
will vamoose when she sees you coming.

I will make sure
you have no missed calls,
nothing in your in-box,
and get no letters, not even a curt epistle
from your soon-to-be ex-wife’s solicitor.

You’ll be a sparrow
chirping madly for a missing mate
long since safely
in the jaws of the cat
who answers to me.

Your existence will shrink until
you and your pet mosquito are the sole tenants
in an otherwise boarded up block that looks out
on the radiant windows
of those determined not to know you.

Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems is published by Salmon and includes a substantial number of new poems as well as selections from his six previous poetry collections. Click here for more information.

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Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins has published four collections of poetry with Salmon, the most recent of which is The Ghost In The Lobby (2014). His best-selling first collection, The Boy With No Face, was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award for Best First Collection by an Irish poet. His poetry is discussed in The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry and features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade –New British and Irish Poets (Ed. Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe, April 2014). A collection of Kevin’s essays and book reviews, Mentioning The War, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2012. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Turkish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, & Portuguese. In 2014 Kevin's poetry was the subject of a paper 'The Case of Kevin Higgins, or, 'The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire' presented by David Wheatley at a Symposium on Satire at the University of Aberdeen. He was Satirist-in-Residence at the Bogman’s Cannon (2015-16). '2016 - The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins' was published by NuaScéalta in early 2016. A pamphlet of Kevin’s political poems The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published in December by the Culture Matters imprint of the UK based Manifesto Press; Song of Songs 2:0 - New and Selected Poems will be published by Salmon in April 2017. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Independent, and The Daily Mirror. The Stinging Fly magazine recently described Kevin as "likely the most read living poet in Ireland." Last summer Kevin was suspended from the UK Labour Party, of which he is an overseas member, for the crime of writing satirical poems about Hilary Benn MP, John Mann MP, and Jeremy Corbyn’s critics in the media.