Dangerous Dan McGrew
My uncle Jack slept late into the afternoon Lying like a stunned bear in his street clothes Staccato snoring through his broken nose.
He played cards all night in Killaser Cigarette smoke anointing the room Bottles of beer staining the card table Broken black angel men hunkered down Waging life against the odds of resurrection.
He drove home through the back mountain passes The country deep black darkness ebbing away slowly The driver’s window open Taping his open palm in rhythm Against the outside of the pitted car door The chill Summer wind rushing in The smell of rain on the wind Heavy black clouds shrouding Cullneachtain Humming to himself the poem about the shooting of Dan McGrew
And in the empty Mayo silence vigorously calling out His favorite part of each verse Dangerous Dan McGrew.
He passed Winnie Battle’s house And the drifting shadows of lost boys and girls. He drove in the middle of the road The high beams picking out the tall swaying rushes And black sods of turf laid out to be wind dried.
He turned abruptly into the narrow roadway to my grandmother’s house. Careening against the high wind break bushes on either side. Then breaking hard Gravel and pebbles spraying out in elliptical arcs. He liked to make an entrance.
He crashed onto his bed. Arms akimbo.
I moved into the room The smell of cigarette smoke made me gag I pulled my t-shirt over my nose. The luminescent dials on the bedside clock – 5 am. Dawn was close. Death was close for someone too.
Under his pillow I searched quietly with my fingertips. Then pulled his burnished Luger pistol out slowly.