We Irish by Nathanael O’Reilly

We Irish 

Our mothers and fathers and brothers
Left the ash corner deserted the shamrock
The emblem of wit and beauty
Never to see old Erins isle once more

The Queen of England was guilty she destroyed
Massacred and murdered their forefathers
Pulling their toe and finger nails rolling them downhill
In spiked barrels they were persecuted massacred

Thrown into martyrdom and tortured beyond
The ideas of the present generation more was transported
To Van Diemand’s Land were doomed to Port Macquarie
Toweringabbie and Norfolk Island and Emu Plains
Those places of tyranny and condemnation
And every torture imaginable or fled to America
Or other countries to bloom again another day
But there never was such a thing as Justice

In the English laws my own brothers
What would England do if America declared war
And hoisted a green flag as its all Irishmen
That has got command of her armies forts and batteries
Even her very life guards and beef tasters are Irish.
Many a blooming Irishman rather than subdue
To the Saxon yoke were flogged to death and bravely died
In servile chains murdered on their own soil

NB: The poem above was composed using only the words that appear in the following texts attributed to Ned Kelly: The Jerilderie Letter, The Cameron Letter, The Babington Letter, and The O’Loghlen Letter. The poem uses Kelly’s spelling and echo his punctuation and capitalization.

BIO: Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet residing in Texas. His books include Boulevard (Beir Bua Press, 2021); (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); BLUE (above/ground press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). His poetry, published in fourteen countries, appears in journals and anthologies including AnthropoceneBeir Bua JournalCordite Poetry ReviewThe Elevation ReviewIn Parentheses: New ModernismNew World WritingMascara Literary ReviewPonder ReviewSkylight 47 and Westerly. He is poetry editor for Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature.

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