A JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY IRISH & IRISH AMERICAN AFFAIRS 
Winter 2020 / VOL. 20 ISSUE 1

This Issue's Poem

The Reconstruction of Cuchulainn

I saw you Cuchulainn

waiting for the Clark Street El.

You were hunched up in disguise, wrapped

in an old blue parka,

White Sox cap pulled down on your head.

You caught and cursed the grey winter sky with

a breath that smelled of too much beer.

 

I saw you again Cuchulainn

with a green card in your hand,

telling the foreman of  how you worked

with stone back home,

a highly recommended boy with a pocket

full of druid references,

each letter chiseled in careful ogham script.

 

I saw you Cuchulainn

marching down Dearborn Street

behind Mayor Daley on the seventeenth of March,

your party badge all shined and polished,

and I knew Cuchulainn

that not even Fergus had ever been so well served.

 

I saw you Cuchulainn

stumbling at night in your fallen glory

along Archer Avenue,

leaving each bar spinning in fear

of your ashen club,

the likes of which no local GAA team had ever seen.

 

I saw you Cuchulainn

driving your chariot down the Kennedy Expressway

under the early morning sky.  The sparks

from the hooves of your wild steeds sending funnels

of flame upwards,

rising to the stars with your fierce cry

of agony and delight.

 

I saw you Cuchulainn in a thousand movies and television

shows, boasting of your fearless deeds and feats.

I saw you Cuchulainn with the magic of your

Gae Bolga and the beauty of your Salmon Leap,

now so long forgotten,

eclipsed by electron beams and laser guns

and I saw the fear in your eyes.

 

I saw you many times since Cuchulainn,

still the beardless youth with a murdering sling,

too wild to be understood and

too angry to say why.

 

I once saw your name Cuchulainn

scrawled on the playground wall,

wedged between “rap rules” and “Jesus saves”

and I knew then Cuchulainn, that your spasmodic fury

would forever stalk throughout the world.

 

I saw you one last time Cuchulainn

standing in the summer rain at Mount Olivet

your hands turned to fists of marbled anger

as you wept over the grave of Studs Lonigan.

 

I saw you Cuchulainn and prayed the world

to take mercy on your bewildered soul.

 

- Joseph Gahagan 

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