give Ireland back to the Irish

a brightly colored wrapper
on a deserted street
as the victim's profile
is fused
to the standing wall
of the church.

a man lies motionless
in a guarded after-life
as his clan,
black masked soldiers,
more of the
papery colored wrappers.

copying his brothers,
a freckled child
the splinters of color
whirling in the smoky air.

a lonely man,
smiles lustfully
as he stands on a cement block,
a thousand miles away,
holding a limp piece of cardboard,
'give Ireland back to the Irish.'

NOTE: I wrote this poem, originally, in 1981. I was a college student, and I ran into this guy who stood in front of the student center holding the sign that I note. I wasn't even really sure what he was doing, or what it was all about, but it is an image that I've never forgotten.  I remember this poem as I have just seen Seamus Heaney read his poem, 'Casualty,' which centers on the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. A man, someone he knew, loved the drink more than he loved the fight, and when he chose the bottle over the curfew that had been imposed on the evening of the funerals for those shot dead by British soldiers, he was killed. Here's a bit of the poem, which, naturally, is far superior to my own.

But my tentative art
His turned back watches too:
He was blown to bits
Out drinking in a curfew
Others obeyed, three nights
After they shot dead
The thirteen men in Derry.
PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said,
BOGSIDE NIL. That Wednesday
Everyone held
His breath and trembled. 

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