Walt Whitman reserved particular scorn
for the members of that accursed race,
“A filthy rabble” he asserted,
he who celebrated all races and kinds
couldn’t find it in his heart to tolerate thine.
He envisioned America as a great big goulash
into which all should be mixed
except me and you, lass.
I can’t imagine what we did or said to merit
his antipathy; we apparently gave him
a case of sympathetic paralysis.
And then there’s Freud, who said the Irish were
the only people unsusceptible of psychoanalysis.
Maybe we just don’t like nosy questions.
Perhaps some drink and talk or, for the writers,
some solitary gloom is all it takes to chase
away the blues, or get them down on paper.
It seems self-pity and truculence are our lot,
my dear, and we’ll just have to stand apart
from the world. Sing a too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra
for your old Irish great-grandmother, who
would have told you “Don’t break your arm
patting yourself on the back.”
The O’Keefes who you come from also said
if they’re going to call you a horse thief
you might as well steal some.
And we might as well love
each other if they won’t.