Our Poem Of The Week, presented in association with Poetry Ireland, is Ireland Is Changing Mother, by Rita Ann Higgins.
Ireland Is Changing Mother
Don’t throw out the loaves
with the dishes mother.
It’s not the double-takes so much
it’s that they take you by the double.
And where have all the Nellys gone
and all the Missus Kellys gone?
You might have had the cleanest step on your street
but so what mother,
nowadays it’s not the step
but the mile that matters.
Meanwhile the Bally Bane Taliban
are battling it out over that football.
They will bring the local yokels
to a deeper meaning of over the barring it.
And then some scarring will occur
–as in cracked skull for your troubles.
They don’t just integrate, they limp-pa-grate,
your sons are shrinking mother.
Before this mother,
your sons were Gods of that powerful thing.
Gods of the apron string.
They could eat a horse and they often did,
with your help mother.
Even Tim who has a black belt in sleepwalking
and border lining couldn’t torch a cigarette,
much less the wet haystack of desire,
even he can see, Ireland is changing mother.
Listen to black belt Tim mother.
When they breeze onto the pitch
like some Namibian Gods
the local girls wet themselves.
They say in a hurry,
Not good for your sons mother,
who claim to have invented everything
from the earwig to the sliotar.
They were used to seizing Cynthia’s hips
looking into her eyes and saying
I’m Johnny come lately, love me.
Now the Namibian Gods and the Bally Bane Taliban
are bringing the local yokels
to their menacing senses,
and scoring more goals than Cú Chulainn.
Ireland is changing mother
tell yourself, tell your sons.
from Ireland Is Changing Mother (Bloodaxe Books, 2011)
For over two decades, Rita Ann Higgins has been a poetic voice for the voiceless. Raucous, anarchic, witty and sympathetic, her poems chronicle the lives of the Irish dispossessed in ways that are both provocative and heart-warming. She has published ten books of poems, the most recent being Tongulish published by Bloodaxe in 2016.