The Universal Moderate by Kevin Higgins


after Buffy Sainte-Marie


This poem is dedicated to all candidates of the “centre-left” and “centre-right” in the Irish General Election and to all supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton


Over wishy-washy tea in the office canteen,

or when you’re condemned to sit beside him

at the after party of a funeral,

the unsub speaks his principles

like he’s eight foot one;

but is back down to his usual

one foot eight when

the vote on anything’s taken.


Though he says so himself,

it took monumental bravery

for a man of his measurements

to come loudly out in favour of

homosexual marriage the day after

it was legalised everywhere.​


He’s taking at face value what the Director of the CIA

told Congress yesterday. He’s arguing in favour

of the First World War. On balance, he’s for

his country and China continuing to mutually

pleasure each other; of selling more

helicopters to Saudi Arabia. He’s too busy

giving King Leopold of Belgium’s efforts

to civilise the Congo another second chance

to indulge your wild theories.


Be it the proposal to limit the right of landowners

to gun down vagrants wandering

onto their property; the suggested legislation

to make mandatory the rescue by their employers

of children wedged up chimneys;

or the phasing out of compulsory

female circumcision; he’s in favour of everything

when the circumstances permit

and all bar Sir Rhodes Boyson’s corpse concur.


He’s the Universal Moderate,

forever holding up the bit between

those who want to slaughter six million

and those who “unrealistically refuse to consider”

killing even one.


KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogmans Cannon Satirist-in-Residence