Poem of the Week: Cicero by Rita Ann Higgins

A new work by Rita Ann Higgins

Back in the late 80s,
the Atlanta Hotel in Dominick Street
was a great place for the arty-crowd.
Poetry readings and music sessions
were never-ending.
Michael Hartnett
kept loose cigarettes
in his top left-hand pocket.
As he was talking
he’d reach in
and gingerly pluck one out.
A natural movement
with flair and devil may care -
not to be gaped at
but not to be missed either.
He tapped the cigarette
on his worn lapel -
by way of readying it
for his pursed lips.

He was telling us something
about the time
someone put a hex on him.
Although the cigarette was ready
it would have to wait
till the story was told.
It gambolled now on his freer lips,
while we waited knowingly -
on his show-stopping strike.

Rita Ann Higgins has published many collections, including Pathogans Love a Patsy: Pandemic and other poems (Salmon Poetry, 2020) and Tongulish (Bloodaxe, 2016)