My friend and former professor, Helen, asked me if I had any travel poems. Realizing that I did not, desperate for any opportunity to have my poetry seen, I took her question as a prompt to write one.
I thought of some of my favorite places, and travel memories. I thought about my great uncle Francie who I had visited in his thatch-roofed farmhouse in Ballinasloe a few years back, and how he had passed recently. Then I looked through my photos of the trip and was immediately inspired to show my appreciation to the people of Galway. This is my thank you note to a city that took me in like a long lost cousin.
I miss the cobbled streets of Galway City.
The muddied fairgrounds of the races
in Ballybrit, out where my uncles
traded with the Romani,
slapping hands back and forth.
Those hands negotiated the honesty
Eoin and Phelim made me a cousin
and felt more like neighbors
than the strangers I live next to
here, alone, in the States.
I was among the sharp dressed lads on ladies day.
Amateur gamblers made the addiction
look more charming than shameful.
Guinness tent oysters were our delicacy.
Padraig damn near starved
had it not been for them
in the old days.
Quay Street had no locks
and the ballads blasted
from the dirty heads on the corner,
where tourists dropped their Euros.
Salthill road kept Aunt Pearl floating
for a while, oh Pearls of Wisdom.
She wore all purple.
It splashed creativity over the
abundance of verdance.
In her Vedic Astrology shop
she raised a good lad
who broke window panes
with his sliotar.
Everyone forgave him.
Lads will play
and be born far from home,
but my blood runs thick
and I know my kin
Where Tommy and Francy are laid to rest
the grass overgrows
waiting to be replanted.