Pictures of Unfamiliars, by Kevin Higgins

day_of_action1
after Carolyn Forché

Beamed into one’s living room via satellite,
or framed in syndicated photographs
on the quality papers’ foreign pages, even
their black or missing front teeth
have a strange beauty.

The shanty town dwellers of La Paz,
in their hand woven red and green ponchos,
carry themselves in a fashion
which puts to shame the post office queue
scraggy mother of two, with change
in her slovenly wallet for lottery tickets,
but not shampoo.

Nothing against the locals.
But even the skeletal colosseum cats have a grace
which the one I ran over on my way
to this morning’s Amnesty
International meeting absolutely lacked.

The ongoing pain of the Yazidi women
and the entire Choctaw nation (every generation)
is best struggled with over a fair trade salad
in one of the more radical tea shops
on Sandymount Strand.

In comparison, one admits,
our local Others – with their dole
day drunkenness, and lack of imagination
which has seen them prosaically wander the roads
these past thousand years – just
don’t cut the whole grain mustard.

When they start mouthing Civil Rights
and municipal water cannon or
police batons get over enthusiastic
on their irresponsibly positioned skulls,
people like me will feel forced to pass by
on the other side, checking our messages
for pictures of unfamiliars being
deliciously maltreated
anywhere else.

KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogmans Cannon satirist-in-residence

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