Anna Kiley came out from a family of nine on a farm in Cahir in County Tipp somewhere at the end of the 1800s she lived a century, wearing her good farm wife’s dresses and singing her great grandson Molly Malone a Detective Sargeant’s mother in law, she oten took the bus from Stamford to Bridgeport to visit relations with never a fear We lived in one of those fine old two story houses next door to the Ukranian seminary enclave St Basil’s and I ran free and wild as a child I would fly upstairs in my Superman cape for tea and cookies with Anna and her daughter even when I’d knocked over my mom’s best vase for no anger, however righteous could touch me sitting at the checkered kitchen table, the fine afternoon light slanting through the curtain lace singing cockles and mussels alive alive o Anna died in a fire and no one could save her just as I began my teenage years her farm wife’s sleeve caught an open flame as she tried to make tea one last day alone the wake was a grand event they all say I only cried for forty years or so wandering manys the street broad and narrow this wide world o’er Delaney roared whiskey driven New York City nights with me settling his own haunted dreams with girls song and rebel disregard of the church or Catholic fear “Ah Billy look right into her eyes, man, She wants you to see how pretty she is” and his sly hand and smile more often than not found a way between gently coaxed thighs all Ireland did arise and we danced down Manhattan’s streets of fire and rain laughing off our pain and singing songs of Ireland in the Bells of Hell while Malachy held joyful court and the Ballad of Bernadette Devlin wafted from the juke The Bogside exploded and I hit Dublin just as the Brits were dragging folk from their Belfast and Derry hovels to prison ships and the Republican University campuses you know the long story the war and the glory Paisley’s vicious bluster and the Women of Armagh volunteers cut down in Ulster or on Gibraltar mother of sweet Jesus weeping as, locked in a NYC cell on a street that Mayor Dinkins named after him, Joe Doc played the barber for wise guys and kept the flame lit or dear Roisin hauled off pregnant to a London hell or McGlinchey man and wife riddled or Scatter O Hara in a lousy Dublin jail or all the mourning or all the peace doves in this new morning at last at last but down all those years the anger and the tears I always heard the wheels of her ghost rolled barrow bringing me home to Tipperary quiet nights a jar in the pub and singsong till the dawn
Bill Nevins, born 1947, grew up in and near NY City, lived in northern New England and the Philadelphia area and spent time in Canada, mainland Europe and in Ireland before settling in New Mexico in 1996, where he taught at UNM and in secondary schools. He is a widely published cultural journalist and a poet. He has two books of poetry, Heartbreak Ridge and AWE and a 2007 feature film “Committing Poetry in Times of War” focused on his teaching work. Bill is a father and grandfather and a Gold Star parent. He lives in Albuquerque and in the Angel Fire area.
For the past quarter-century, Bill Nevins has encouraged and fostered community poetry events and organizations in Albuquerque and in other parts of New Mexico, with strong national and international links to Mexico and Ireland. He is an active board member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, the Irish American Society of New Mexico, and a member of Irish American Writers and Artists and a founding member of the New Mexico affiliate of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, an activist literary group founded in San Francisco and dedicated to bringing positive change in the world through the power of poetry. According to Nevins, the Revolutionary Poets Brigade believes that “Poetry has always been and continues to be not only the way the poet listens to his or her innermost being, but a way the spirit of the times, in its most forward-looking incarnation, is expressed and heard. “
Bill Nevins organized the years-long Albuquerque Resolana series of public literary and discussion forums on crucial events and social concerns. He has also co- founded monthly Kaktus Poetry readings and several other poetry open-mics and special events in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Angel Fire and Taos. For the past year of pandemic restrictions, Bill has focused his energy on contributing to a growing network of online Zoom poetry, musical and literary events, including the recent Irish Poets Salon which drew 150 attendees and the weekly Cultivating Voices gathering, drawing poets and audience from New Mexico and beyond as far away as New York, Ireland, Mexico and India. He has more online programs in development including a forum honoring fallen troops and other heroes of our troubled times.
Bill Nevins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he welcomes suggestions for future programs.