Friday, October 27, 2006

The Librarian Ponders the Poet: Colleen and the Gold Eagle Scene

On the eve of the feast of the great St. Jude (and his partner in prayers, St. Simon), I offer a poem I wrote several years back (during my stint as a liquor store manager) on his feast day, about a young woman who was touched by his intercession. "The Librarian Ponders the Poet" is in some ways a sequel to "The Day of Gray Laughter" (albeit some 17 years later) and if the ending seems more hopeful this time around, I think we can safely assume that Simon and Jude's intercession has had some positive effect on me too.

Into Gold Eagle their beaten bodies descend
Souls so lost, their humanity is hard to defend
To keep sane, management makes them the butt of their jokes
With nicknames that stick like the stench of yesterday's smokes

There's "Stumbles," and "Shakes," and "Debbie, the Dirty Dancer"
Here's "Santa Clause" and "Space Ghost" and "Ol' Pee-In-Her-Pants-er"
Yet there's one girl too young to fit into this scheme
The fair-haired librarian I now know as Colleen

Not only is she more intelligent than anyone here seems
Her demons are not (yet) as big as her dreams
But ... is she too young to know that this demon is so real it
Has darkened many an Irish intellect before they could feel it

Now 40, I feel I must aid my countrywoman in this fight
So I lend her some of my writings (with one left to write)
For I too have fought this battle, and only came out ahead
Because He picked me up when most left me for dead

"So ... what is her name? And how strong is her will?
Asks my love (my wife) who (by now) knows well this drill
Critics claim this is all just a void I'm trying to fill
But mostly, it's makin' myself vulnerable, tryin' not to get killed

And I know I can aid your search only in part
Yet I pray that these words can at least be a start
Will your questions be answered near the Cross of Christ
Or at the bottom of your last can of Natural Ice?

But Colleen is too clever, her intellect too keen -
Perhaps she'll find life's meaning somewhere in-between

Yes, I hope that my poem will at least be a start
Still, my words are so transparent you must know in your heart
That if my truth (His Truth) is found to be ... True
You must give me (thru Him) a bit of your heart then too

"Tom, I was quite touched by the poem that you wrote about Therese"
You say on the day of her patron saint's feast
But will you like this poem? Hey, who can tell ...
Maybe this day (St.) Jude will have his say as well

Colleen, I'm lucky to've found love, fortunate to've found faith
I haven't found much money but He says it ain't that great
Now I'm sad and I'm babbling, trying hard not to let yet another poem end
With His fine line "There's no greater love (than to lay down your life for a friend)

Instead, I'll wipe away tear, and raise high my glass
To that pseudo-Italian girl now true Irish literary lass
Colleen, we might even make a positive out of this sorry place
If, while getting your fill of "Ice," you stay "full of Grace"

Tom O'Toole
to Colleen, my literary friend
Feast of St. Jude ("the odds-on favorite of reform")
October 28, 1999

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