Milwaukee Irish Fest, If I Could - a poem by Thomas Seán Purdy

I would enter your gate and turnstile each day

endure the emptying of pockets

and the stern shriek

of the metal detector

if I could.


I would greet the security greeters

eager in their pleasant urgency

to see me on my way

to the waiting merchants of drink

and donuts and not nearly Irish enough stew.


I would set free my bedazzled eyes,

take in the tricolours draped from every booth

the green the white the orange

as if they were hanging baskets

in the flower garden of Eden.


I would dwell in the open-sky venues

allow the mini tribes of musicians, fiddles flailing,

to bang on my eardrums

from stages on high

while they dance with ceremonial fervor left to right.


I would meander through the marketplace

of all things handcrafted and Celtic

the jewelry, the t-shirts,

the wall plaques with some other family’s crest,

past birdhouses adorned

necessarily with shamrocks.


I would huddle in pagoda tents with historians

untangling the intrigues

of times past, with fellow devotees

of missions and misdeeds

and a nation taking root.


I would linger even longer with the writers,

standing up close and personal

before potential readers of their musings,

who shift in the unfolded chairs

for a better view of the photo shared,

while the writers wonder who among us

might buy a book.


Yes, absent waking in Ireland

beneath an ancestral townland sky,

I would gather every day to celebrate,

to take all of this tribal humanity in,

and then scatter willingly every night

to do it all again in the morning,

If I could.


For more information about the Milwaukee Irish Fest see here 

Comments about this page

  • Well done Tom. Great to be part of that. “If I could”. That emotion of longing tinged with nostalgia jumps right off the page perfected by your recitation with a lilt of an Irish accent. A great depiction summing up all you could wish for.

    By Kay (30/09/2022)

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