The Manchester Review
Rita Ann Higgins
Three Poems
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The Builder’s Mess

Toxic and tired is the builder’s mess
in post-Celtic-tiger-Ireland.
Now that the bubbles’ burst mother
the ghost-estates are everywhere.

A -bank- owned- builders’-mess mother.

All those estates
six hundred and twenty, maybe more,
few finished, loads unfinished.
Unsightly and neglected
dirty faced and dour mother
toxic and tired mother.

The Olympic rats run in and out
of unfinished drain pipes,
up bare-stairs,
devouring lagging jackets
in hot presses that never had heat.

Someone high up in a department,
reeking with negative equity
calls all the ghost estates,
a phenomenon mother.

The homeless guy who is barred
from the homeless shelter
for urinating in a doorway,
he calls them a shame mother
a crying shame mother.

Some were completed and vacant,
some were found to be occupied
some were found to be empty and occupied,
all at the same time mother.
Others were bought but never built mother.

And what do the sons and daughters
of the Celtic tiger call them mother?

The ones who camped out in the floods
to get the semi with the decking,
and the snooker table lawn mother?
The ones who queued
with their deposits in their pockets,
their unborn children up their sleeves
their shaved backsides hanging out.
What do they call them mother?
They call them a travesty mother.