Kevin Higgins

Historically Sensible

You knew for a fact, they’d never
allow a pair of mad eyes with a pistol
near the Emperor and his wife;
and when they did, knew
the war would be done
before the Christmas tree went up
in Chichester town square;
and when it wasn’t, that the Germans
must be forced to pick up the bill,
so they never did this again.
You knew for a fact, the Tsar
had a special place in the Russian peasant’s heart;
and when he hadn’t, that the Bolsheviks
wouldn’t last five minutes.
And when they did, they were what
you’d been praying for all along.
Hitler was a joke with an Austrian accent
who’d never amount to anything,
and when he did, you knew for a fact
he had no interest in Warsaw, Kiev, Coventry.

You knew when the turbulence
had done its worst, the Shah
would still be sat on his Peacock throne,
looking taller than he actually was. Khomeni?
In five years’ time no one
would remember his name.
And that cowboy actor was never
going to win the White House.

The hijackers you envisaged
always landed the plane
and let the passengers go.



Read nothing into the night vision goggles
    I was wearing when they arrested me.
I never met anyone by the name of
    Whittaker Chambers; know nothing about
the boxes of counterfeit Dollars found
    in a lock-up garage the record shows
was rented by someone with a name like
    mine. That isn’t me behind the ski mask.
I was fifty miles away, having
    tea with the Dalai Lama,
when my friends shot that
    policeman. Someone must have put
that heavy water nuclear reactor
    in the garden shed
when I wasn’t looking.
    I just want
to tend my pumpkin patch.

    That isn’t me
handing a leather satchel,
    contents, as yet, undetermined,
to Carlos the Jackal, Dusseldorf, 1973.
    And if it is, I didn’t know
it was him. I just want to watch the cat wander
    innocent among the dahlias.




Kevin Higgins’ most recent collection of poetry, Frightening New Furniture, was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. His fourth collection, The Ghost in the Lobby, will be published by Salmon in 2013. A collection of his essays and book reviews, Mentioning the War, was published this year, also by Salmon. Kevin is co-organiser of Over the Edge literary events in Galway and was co-editor of the first four issues of the original Burning Bush.