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We stand in crooked lines outside the gate,
Where my new bride and I map out our day,
As gap-year Germans try to understand
What their French friend in denim means by “hangry”.
The jailers call the Germans to file past
A wall where Irish rebels hung and flailed.
We spot a pub across the street and leave
The line for this strange jail, which was once refuge
For children and parents who swiped fresh bread
From grocer carts to outlast the Great Hunger.
The air feels good as we eat fish and drink,
Unsure if the line will die down in time
For us to catch a bus back to Suffolk street.
The waiter brings a second pint and winks.
We see the cells and courtyard afternoon,
And make it back to Dublin for the first scene.
The actors sit on stools and slur their words,
Forgotten lines about alcohol penned
By bone-thin poets who wrote to honor jailed
Rebels, schoolteachers, priests, and starving farmers.
The bearded actor swivels his stool and sings
Kennelly’s words, “a ballad is a living
Ghost that  demands a living voice.” The crowd
Erupts as we collect our tabs and follow
Lovesick James Joyce  down winding cobblestone streets.
The red sun hangs low in the sky and hits
The lawn, where Goldsmith’s copper eyes stare down
At me entranced by the dead around us.

—Clinton Collister

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