Tuesday 16 January 2007

Irish Cowboys

First published in Prairie Poetry , Irish Cowboys has prooven one of my more popular pieces and can be found in various publications and online. I remember games we played as kids, that always seemed to revolve around Cowboys (one in particular we called "the sherrif game" and played it for what seems like years but was probably in reality only a few months!) A lot of our imagination as kids was informed as much by american programs and tv shows and of course films as by the Irish history and mythology beloved of my parents.

Irish Cowboys

The wild west for us
was never the stone walls
and fragments of land between them
the ragged, wild, bog-spawned
west of Ireland
It was a topography, a dialect, a code
as familiar as our parents
or our national tongue
gleaned from Television, old movies
dog-eared paperbacks.
We were born in Dublin
but we all, each one,
roamed the wild praries
hunting buffalo in our souls
spat tobaccy and smoked Marlborough
walked bowlegged - howdy pardner -
or grim and gimlet-eyed, we eyed the
scorching sun
talking in monosyllabic knowing exchanges
about drought, and cattle dying, and crops failing
thwarted in our childish hearts by
near incessant rain
and insolent verdant green


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