The Great Purge

This is a guest post by Kevin Higgins
An argument in which there was no
such place as Switzerland;
time to do unto others
and have it done to you.
Some woke up with their
throats cut; others
never came back
out of the bathroom.

But mostly the punishments were road signs
that read: Topeka 560 miles,
or Welcome to East Sussex, as we scattered
to become after dinner speakers;
hair-spray salesmen in southern Illinois; or
end our days with nothing to declare
but our neutrality.

Hard to believe we were all
once in the same room, saying things like
“socialist transformation of society”;
and then downing pints for the cause
on perfect Thursday evenings,
when the world was new
and would belong to us.

This poem appears in Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010)

Kevin Higgins was born in London in 1967 to Irish parents. He grew up in Galway, Ireland but lived in London in the late 80s/early nineties when he was active in the Anti-Poll Tax movement and chairman of Enfield Against The Poll Tax. He was expelled from the Labour Party in 1991 for his anti-poll tax activities and membership of Militant. He is now co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway, Ireland. He facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre; teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute and on the Brothers of Charity Away With Words programme. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. One of the poems from Time Gentlemen, Please, ‘My Militant Tendency’, features in the Forward Book of Poetry 2009. His work also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). His third collection of poems Frightening New Furniture was published in March by Salmon Poetry.