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Larry Winfield

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Irish Black
by Larry Winfield

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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This is my St. Patrick's Day poem, read with an Irish brouge during Black History Month. One year in Chicago, there were more celebrations of Gaelic culture in February than in March, so I penned this poem as a commentary, not a protest. (you can hear an audio version on my podcast "The Patio")

now is the time for reels and fancy steps,
to make merry, make melancholy;
pushing back the shortest month out of ken,
away with its tribal clatterings and dark revelry
in favor of pipes and strings and scattered lilting words
of a 'proper' ancient tongue rarely uttered.
now's the time to tap the fiddler,
to lean back into the raft of misty melodies
that evokes the heavy-footed heath ye starved on,
where the British practiced slavery first
before moving the enterprise south;
evokes the teeming stinking cities ye crowded into,
where 'Catholic' was a fighting word (and so be it),
but "be damned if we'll be shipped off in blue,
fight and die to free niggers - we'll burn down
the whole of New York first!"
(aye, tis what ye said, and nearly did).
sweet melodies lead to the promised lands
of bungalows and quiet dominion,
where bellies and pockets are always full.
now is the time for blood oaths and pledges of resistance,
fealty to the republic, boyos laid to sod,
promises to keep.
now's the time to lift a glass:
to James Joyce, for Finnegan and Molly Bloom,
for reclaiming Eire's throbbing Gaelic soul
back from St. Patrick;
to Yeates, for admiring the recklessness of artists;
to Belfast - she often looks like Beirut
and wails like Sarajevo.
in a Bogside pub all is bliss;
one for the road is an insult to the road.
we all dance arm in arm, full throated,
shoes smelling of beer,
all black and proud.
in stateside cities is where solidarity gets
tossed into gutters,
and color lines are as clear as accents;
only stateside am i compelled to remember
what 'black irish' doesn't mean.

Larry Winfield
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Reviewed by Michelle Mead 3/13/2008
This is really well-written, your detail is fantastic. I really like the end of this, actually, I like it all, can't really pick just a single favorite section. I have to go read your other poems now :) Michelle
Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks 3/11/2008
A well informed poem, Larry lad...but of many sad memories for Republic and North. At any rate...Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye.

Micke Jinks

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