“You recall the gesture, I remember cars on fire”

Just to prove Pete isn’t the only blogger with a half decent ear for a line of poetry, here’s a piece by Fred Johnston, that I first read in South Magazine in April 2006, and which I finally got permission from the author to ‘reprint’ on Slugger, just when my copy of the magazine disappeared in the morass of bookshelves here at Slugger Central. It has finally re-emerged. And I am very grateful for the author’s permission!

MAO-ING

At Carnsore Point there was a young man
Shouting at the crowd, preaching, passionate
In his way. Was this for show?

I carried a copy of the Little Red Book
In the back pocket of my jeans. I marched
In Newry. What was it about?

We differ in distance from what we were:
Miles and miles, a drip of years-
You recall the gesture, I remember cars on fire.

Both of us were what we would become
Even then. Now we accuse each other
On the air of selling out this, buying that.

Mao is dead. Ireland’s still hooked up
To familiar grids, parish wells of thought:
What we sold cost more than what we bought.

Fred Johnston


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