—Nancy Haskett, Modesto
Everyone tells you that Ireland is green,
but still, it takes you by surprise,
this one color, so multi-hued
as far as you can see;
they don’t tell you it will
make you park your rental car
at the foot of a hill
somewhere near Mt. Leister,
climb up through short grass,
wildflowers, jagged rocks,
breathless as you stare
at emerald patchwork fields
stretching into haze at the foot
of distant mountains,
the fields bordered by trees of even darker green,
just like they said it would be,
but now you see it for yourself,
now you know it’s a green
that can’t be described
a green that will make you cry.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
You are my Saint Patrick’s—no: my Ireland.
You stand for everything young and green and good
in life, which is to say, girls brought up in a wood
to love with a rage outstripping manners…firebrand.
But your soft flame is green, an Irish flag.
You ignite me, symphonic flair, all Dublin cymbals.
If you kiss me, creation’s all etched in symbols.
Then time stops, eyeing your skin, yet time’s no drag,
just tug and surge and urge ahead. You mingle
rich green eyefire into your native brown,
dark brown of eye. Such complement blooms, all purple,
inform on you: how down beneath your gown
you suffer. Oh your smile uplifts, but bruised—
the deceived & those who take hurt are both abused.
Don’t fight, inside your soul, your civil war.
Don’t split your fen-deep marshland heart with ire.
Even the tangled roots and dirt of you cling to what’s green.
Thrust forward that flag, your feral Irish fire,
shine out from within, my mystical sweet green star.
First day all year I’ve seen you: but won’t yell
—your back turned—yet that pixie-cut dark hair,
brown tending to black, pale poet absorbed with care.
Let’s dance, till my heart stops entirely, Bax’s Moy Mell.
It’s beautiful Saint Patrick’s. So, to hell
with anything unselfish or to share.
Girl born above poor Greek Sappho, today, my fair,
you’re Irish, oh mine entirely. My spell!
You torment me most days, transparent—gone.
You never bring pipevine flutter and flirt, my muse.
Such leaving the lonely old alone. Abuse
is absence in a goddess…I see your back!
You melt away in spurts of glee. No lack
today, though. It’s Saint Paddy’s. You’re so much my dawn.
You shine on the redbud and the bluebird. Face
of the white mist in the Derry morning, grace
of the corridor run, you smile, you light, with lips
alone, the cheeks of the rose, and the rosebud tips.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
It is the color of spring,
And of cold Midwest creeks
Freed, for the moment,
Of their shells
Of ice, and of failed homebrew.
It is also the color that needs
From the top of the pool,
Of the moss that magically
And dead by dusk.
And it is the color
Of envy, of jealousy.
And of hope. It is
The color of the Man
Of the Forest, awakened
Now, to his season,
The color of the eternal
Return. And it is the
Rightful color of the yo-yo.
There was a sad song
In my heart so I scored it for
Clarinet, basset hound, and piano
The clarinetist I had in mind
Had a little problem
He was missing a couple fingers
So in order to achieve certain notes
He would have to cover the tone hole
With his nose
Needless to say that did not enhance
His otherwise correct embouchure
Not at all
The hound was perfect every time
He did not need to rehearse
We know and love that sound
By the best good fortune that
Those who oversee good fortunes
We got a nice player piano
It was very, very reliable
And never complained
Someone mentioned taking the trio
On tour but we only got as far as
The back patio
And when the sprinklers came on
The basset hound raced over
To dance and play with them
The clarinetist pulled out a flask
From his hip pocket
And we lost him
The player piano kept on playing
Ran out of rolls