Normal. A poem by Kevin Higgins

I wouldn’t have you back.
With your nice houses and good schools
on the better side of wherever.
You installed (or tried to) in each of us
the tendency to come out in a loud red rash
on the days we could find no one to be better than.
You were always issuing updates.
We downloaded them in our sleep.

Normal, you’ve made the world
a place nobody belongs.

Even our hugs and handshakes –
now banned under plague-time legislation –
became a thing transactable on Instagram.

For you are more savage by far
than the guy who spends his evenings watching otters
be decapitated on Youtube.

Even the woman across the road’s premature last breath
is a stock you might invest in.

And though you’re not exactly dead –
those whose only contribution
would have been to steal earrings
off children obliterated in the blitz
before the bits had been tidied away
are, as ever, on the lookout for something to nick –
we see now your fabric unwinding until it’s
string we can remake
any shape we want.

Normal, you’re just a script
given us by the Publicity Department
which we acted out for so long
we believed
you were all there ever could be.


Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Ne il Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaSc éalta in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin ’s most recent poetry collection Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital was published by Salmon Poetry in June; one of the poems from which will feature in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4.

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