The Ninth Circle: A & E Saturday Night* , by Kevin Higgins


The Ninth Circle: A & E Saturday Night*

after Alighieri & Sassoon

So, how are things in Hell?
An antibiotic drip
syringed into my right arm
without which I’ll expire
Monday lunchtime,
just in time for
the Joe Duffy Show.

In the next trolley-bed,
meningitis. Across
the way, a hip smashed
when she fell shutting a shed door.
Somewhere a drunk
carried in with his head
caved by a temperamental
iron bar shouts out rebel songs
with the added line:
I am not a paedophile.

This is the H-Blocks
with different jokes
and slightly less poo;
a scene from a battle
which, despite what
General Medals says
isn’t going terribly well.

Nurse agrees
there was a certain justice
in how King Charles the First
was cut down to size,
that there’s others
who’d benefit greatly
from being similarly
handed their heads.

All night a light orchestra
of gasping, groaning,
farting, beeping…

At the end of the hallway
the little room
we mostly visit alone,
some leaving behind
evidence of things even
a deranged loyalist paramilitary
should never have to think about.

Around a corner a sick baby
wails so violently on behalf of
all of us, you don’t need to see
its heaven-bound, red cheeks
to know, that for someone,
they’re all there is
in the world right now.

*This poem was written over three days on a University Hospital Galway Accident & Emergency trolley

KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogmans Cannon Satirist-in-Residence and one of Ireland’s most popular poets. Catch him read at a rare foray into The Pale  at Double Shot in Books Upstairs next Wednesday.