You were just 17.
A kid, really.
Was it too much TV?
The absence of a father which made you like that?
That July you were so eager.
Jump into the jungle
Kill every bad guy in sight.
Yet, come September, off to medic training …
It hurt – I could see it in your face,
Ill-at-ease amongst all us “pacifists”
Still wanting to jump,
Be a hero,
But with a now-dulled blade
That November ... remember?
In 5 short months
A killer turned healer
Yea, still jumping out of airplanes.
But to save a life, if you could.
Not take one, if you could.
Still just 17
No more the big talker
Now a reader, a thinker,
Just as much laughter
But with a lot less sass
Yeah, seemed you found some peace.
I’ll never forget you, Garcia – rough and tumble boy from the Bronx.
Did you make it? Are you still alive?
MAN AND THE ECHO
(1st stanza – by William Butler Yeats)
Man. In a cleft that’s christened Alt
Under broken stone I halt
At the bottom of a pit
That broad noon has never lit,
And shout a secret to the stone.
All that I have said and done,
Now that I am old and ill,
Turns into a question till
I lie awake night after night
And never get the answers right.
Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?
Did words of mine put too great strain
On that woman’s reeling brain?
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked?
And all seems evil until I
Sleepless would lie down and die.
Echo. Lie down and die.
Man. I asked of some of the IRA
Men and women
All had had their say.
I asked of some of Sinn Féin’s ranks
And of others
But who no less drank
Of freedom’s cup and its heady draught.
Was it Willie’s words which drove you out
An early grave your price to pay?
Or did they give naught but voice
To deeds of heart
On those your dying days?
And here is what I heard them say.
Rest easy, dearest Willy.
Echo. Rest easy.
In Honor …
I try to write this from a distance,
Placing distance between me,
And the virtues of which I speak.
I try to dampen the fire, minimize the praise
to record this sense of you which only distance can raise,
Knowing I lack so much – hence, why I say, ‘I try.’
We all are flawed in our unique ways,
No one a saint or sinner,
Not fully, forever, throughout our days.
Thus, when I speak of Pearse or Connelly,
those many gone before,
I practice restraint lest I ascribe only virtues
to mere mortals, for we all know there is more.
But this I know is true of you -
You, a human, flawed as are all,
Is a hero, a martyr, who answered the call,
One we believed then, and believe now, is just …
And, thus, I stand in awe,
Not of your super-humanity
But of your uncommon bravery
In standing when there was a price to be paid.
I will carry this portrait, your portrait,
This image of you,
Sa cheartlár mo chroí,
In honor of you, my friend,
For all eternity.