The Unquiet Death of Decency — a poem by Kevin Higgins

Image: Jaymo.
Image: Jaymo.

The Unquiet Death of Decency

In Memoriam Nick Cohen & David Aaronovitch

By Kevin Higgins

The usual apprenticeship:
a youth divided betwixt
bad folksongs
horribly performed,
and being against
nuking Kazakhstan,
for which you’ve spent
thirty years trying to grow
a compensatory dickey-bow.

For old time’s sake you
express your disgust
at how the government’s
phasing out the poor –
every day a few less –

by thrice a week feeding
yourself a whole
roast piglet, and reminding
acquaintances, who are
anyone’s for a fat glass of sherry,

that a decent leftist
is a one-time social secretary of
Hampstead Youth Communist League
mugged by the Collected Works
of Edmund Burke,
while inhaling butyl nitrate
in a squat near
Hackney Wick.

Your column in The Stinker
a weekly gust
of foul smelling wind
up all the right noses;
if only they’d wake up and sniff
the threat. One of these days!

You kneel
by your bed and pray
to a statue
of Jihad John carved
in a bar of black carbolic;

that he may send
a representative soon
to extinguish Prince Philip,
or blow up Wembley Stadium,

so you can get
back to the serious business
of saying the wildest possible yes
to bombing wherever’s next.

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.