Sep 14 2008

“Blues for Rory” a poem by Eamonn Wall

Published by at 9:30 am under poems

Eamonn Wall is a native of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, and currently resides in St.Louis, Missouri where he is the Smurfit-Stone Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is a former president of the American Conference for Irish Studies and the author of a book of essays titled, From the Sin-e Cafe to the Black Hills as well as five highly regarded collections of poetry. “Blues for Rory” comes from his third book of poems, The Crosses published by Salmon Publishing. Special thanks to Eamonn Wall and Salmon Publishing for allowing me to post this poem on my site. Eamonn has also written an essay, titled “What in the World”: Reading Rory Gallagher’s Blues, that can be viewed here: What in the World: Reading Rory Gallagher’s Blues.

Blues for Rory

From the Slaney Co. Wexford Mississippi Delta
rode the rails in flannel shirts, warm CIE beer in
hands, in the smoking carriage by big muddy cities
Gorey/Chicago, Arklow/St.Louis, moving on mile
by mile marker by great rivers getting closer still
to hearing the legendary bluesman from Cork City
play on his battered strat the blues, and sing I could’ve
had religion but my little girl wouldn’t let me pray,
that kind of girl hard to come by in the Slaney
Co. Wexford Mississippi Delta though neither did
we pray too much being all prayed out since
Confirmation. Rory Gallagher at the National
Stadium after Christmas, the first live gig ever for
me except for wedding bands in the Slaney Co.
Wexford Nashville Tennessee as I served across
the counter large macks to speeded up Country
Roads, couples gliding across the maple floor. All
confused in Connolly/Union Station the route to
Harold’s Cross to breathe the raw elixir of the
blues, Rory Gallagher’s sweat falling on his guitar.
I could touch his feet if the bouncers turned their
heads, who can describe the thrill of knowing it all
for the first time, first bottleneck solo couple of
numbers in? Lord, take that sinner boy home &
I’m here on the prairie now with new CD;
from, window breeze from the deep
south wafting from tree-lined street to tawny alley,
potholes open wide, the rusted trucks, loose gravel,
night light yellow flickering, where for hours the
repo man stood with his forms and magazines,
the world not so bright now for your absence,
Rory Gallagher, Can’t believe it’s true, I can’t
believe it’s true. How we walked by the Grand
Canal in wet midnight winter air, lost looking for
Ranelagh, electrified & silenced by the wonder
of it all, not caring if we ever made it home to
Model County Wexford, hotbed of hurling, home
of strawberries, fields of barley & country music.

— from The Crosses. Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare: Salmon Publishing, 2000

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