By John Grey
In a bar called Finnegan’s Wake, a hundred Irishmen celebrate
St Patrick. The clubs are hopping. Crowds are sprawling down
the streets. Those who fear are locked inside their houses.
Or they’re Irish and they’re much too drunk to care.
A woman is dancing on a traffic island while cars zip by on
either side. An old man is walking his dog, a lab mix.
The banks are long closed. The checks are cashed.
The moon is quoting from every other night. A
couple sprawl on a grassy East Side hill, stare up
at the sky and its trillion lights. And someone is singing
though none can tell where the voice is coming from.
Maybe the cleaning lady in the top floors of the city hall.
Maybe the waitress at the greasy diner. Maybe the
one who first said, “All government is local but
there’s no government at eleven o’clock at night.”
But there’s cop cars to be sure. And an ambulance has
its own shrill song to serenade the dying. A kid was
beat up. A priest was propositioned by a hooker.
A drunk pissed on the State House gate. The Irishmen
are chanting “Danny Boy.” Tears flood every eye.
A fight breaks out but it’s a friendly scrap. No need
for the cops or the ambulance. No need for the government
either, in Washington, in Providence or in Dublin.
Someone said St Patrick rid Ireland of its snakes.
Another says he missed one.