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Against Togetherness

for Kevin McLoughlin, Kieran Allen and friends
on the occasion of their temporary political marriage

Tolerable
to meet one of them
in an elevator and make polite
meaningless eye contact
on your way
to not the same floor; okay
to make miniscule
talk with one
about promised weather
(which, of course, he’s against)
as you sit either side of
the giant pink lampshade
in the brothel waiting room.

But gather them together in conference
or for Christmas dinner, they become
devils with a theory grown
in a rancid tea cup; devils
each with a photo
of his or her own private Kronstadt
massacre of the inconvenient
in their hip pockets; devils
who roll ‘poverty’,
‘debt’ and ‘future generations’
around on their tongues
like boiled sweets.

They demand the truth
so they can put it in a jar
and spend their whole lives
avoiding it; devils I’ll make no pact with,
though the country’s begging for change
with a small foam cup
and the cancer’s in five different places.

KEVIN HIGGINS