They so often misspelled your last name.
You had a large family, including strong sons;
Did you pick up a gun for a paycheck?
Did President Lincoln think you were just another Paddy off the boat?
I want you to know that
Someone said a prayer over your grave
Because you may have been religious.
I know about blacks and Irish back then–
Did you fight for their freedom
Then step on their heads?
Ireland had its own divisive war
Some sixty years after you left.
Is she also a republic worth
So much sacrifice?
(I think so, and I want you to know that.)
Did you resent Eireann for the misery
And Lady Liberty for false promises?
There’s green everywhere, there and here now–
Once fertile fields and the weathered copper of Lady’s crown.
Maybe you don’t think my goddess is the same as your god,
But I see liberty’s points reaching out;
A sun drowning in a sea of doubt and debt.
Did you think of tolerance?
How many ‘no Irish’ signs did you see before you joined up?
Living day-to-day, I think, described your struggle more accurately–
Admittedly, it is Christ-like.
I’ve seen the boys on Halloween,
Rifles pinned on their navy blue hats,
Breath visible in October weather,
Can’t point to Ireland on a world map.
(Is this what you wanted?)
You fought for the Union;
She took care of your family when you were gone–
But I’ll tell you this–
They molded your name
And Americanized us
All to preserve a struggling cause
As the battlefield of your end.