‘It Was For This’ by Kevin Higgins

It Was For This

  That Queen Maeve prepared for battle
by angrily shaving her armpits with a razor
  improvised from north Fermanagh shale.
For this W.B. Yeats took all that
  experimental Viagra, and waited for
the consequences to grow. For this
  Archbishop McQuaid
rolled naked through fields of Lavender.
  For this Maude Gonne let slip
from her womb a future
  Minister for External Affairs,
while loudly denying
  the Holocaust in Irish.
For this Oliver J. Flanagan warned us:
  “where the bees are there is the honey,
and where the Jews are there is the money”
  For this latter day Druids moved
to Ballyvaughan or west Cork,
  and began accepting payment by PayPal.
For this Fiachra of the fashionable whiskers
  took his herbal tincture and sat
letting silence surround him
  for the twenty four hours
his homeopath recommended. For this
  genuine girls all over Ireland
are waiting for your call
  after you stop shouting
at the terrible news. For this
  you paid the phone bill though it left
your bank account burnt
  as a cottage visited once too often
by the black and tans. For this
  on wild Atlantic nights –
the lines down and the cattle crying
  in the fields, you keep trying
to get through – though you’re pretty sure
  some of those girls aren’t genuinely
girls. For this Eoin O’Duffy
  put all his bulls in the one field
and dreamed of one day
  holding in this hand
Heinrich Himmler’s mickey. For this
  Sean O’Casey broke the window
to let the winter in
  and wrote letters backing
the Hitler-Stalin pact. For this
  Dr Maureen Gaffney of Trinity College
went on the radio every Saturday
  to express concern about poverty,
and people phoned in to agree.
  For this the people of Roscommon drank
from their toilets, and threw up
  thankful prayers to the monks
at Glenstal Abbey. For this
  you voted to keep the black babies out
a sensible policy for a cleaner
Glenamaddy, Hacketstown, Portlaoise…

For this the bus driver didn’t stop just now
  when he saw you waving.
All that history
 so you can stumble up the steps,
sweat gushing from your armpits, late
  for that crucial interview; or arrive
at the hospital ten minutes after
 they’ve switched off the respirator
and folded the sheet white
  over your father’s face.
It was all for this.

Kevin author photo December 2013 (1)Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway City. He has published four collections of poems: Kevin’s most recent collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, was launched at this year’s Cúirt Festival by Mick Wallace TD. His poems also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and one of his poems is included in the anthology The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). His poetry was recently the subject of a paper titled ‘The Case of Kevin Higgins: Or The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire’ given by David Wheatley at a symposium on satire at the University of Aberdeen; David Wheatley’s paper can be read in full here http://georgiasam.blogspot.ie/2014/05/the-case-of-kevin-higgins-or-present.html . Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews, was published by Salmon in April, 2012. Kevin’s blog is http://mentioningthewar.blogspot.ie/ . and has been described by Dave Lordan as “one of the funniest around” who has also called Kevin “Ireland’s sharpest satirist.”


  • Kevin Higgins will be taking part in the Lingo Festival this coming Saturday.

2 thoughts on “‘It Was For This’ by Kevin Higgins

  1. ‘It Was for This’ is to me, absolutely hauntingly beautiful, a path I started down in your lines and couldn’t escape if I’d wanted to. Thank you. I sit here having tea, taking a break, as I write a tale of family, life, travels, love, death. Stories uncovered too late for some, stories never fully told for others. You have a new fan across the sea.


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