As one, in life, they tug their craft
Over the sun bleached sands
Salt air fills heaving chests
The tide beckons with friendly waves.
They float over foam, spray in their eyes,
Laughs mix with the great loon’s cries
ruddy lads on Harbor Cork
empty hunger left ashore
The fertile land that fed their folk
Has naught milk from withered breast
A dusty tomb in barren ground
all that’s left to give her poor.
With greedy eyes they absorb
The last stand of their youth
Amongst millions who abandon Erin
For hope of work and bread
From Hibernia they descend
into stinking metal bowels
rife with waste and vermin;
a place for many of last rites
Cruel, Ellis Island casts them apart;
Tagged as sick one cannot debark
Until the final port-of-call,
New Orleans, Dixieland.
Each finds solace with a lass
To liven his spirit anew
Numb the pain of brethren rived
quell the hissing in his soul.
Cries of squirming newborns
Comfort two lads far apart;
tears shed for a lost brother
bedew yearning hearts.
Shrill calls to war pierce their lives;
A nation torn in two.
Swept up in jingoistic storms,
Slaughter joined, kith forsook.
Blue and Gray, sent forth to kill,
Our lads march inexorably nigh
over hills of limbs, hasty graves;
past rivers of guts and blood.
In a massacre at Fredericksburg,
fated, they meet again.
Amid blindness borne of night and smoke
they dance a macabre embrace.
Deathly wounded Blue cries out
in Gaelic born of County Cork.
The other hears an unforgotten voice;
drags the body to the light.
As he sees the dead tormented face
mortal anguish breaks his heart.
Arms entwined is how they’re found;
as one, once again, in death.