Art by Michael Coughlan
He pulls up,
cherry Mustang cranking “Star Star,”
shotgun accomplice turbaned in Camel smoke.
Keough gets out of the car —
Vascularity of the renunciant,
Bruce Lee tank, high and tight, Lennon specs.
He’s got the keys to the kingdom in his trunk:
a snap gun, slim jim, and a set of lockpicks.
Son of a yegg,
he started with the Bramah on a vending machine.
He was with the MPs in Nam; on R&R,
he pulled a payroll heist in the Philippines.
He’s all brains, skin and bones;
he loves a score and he loves his Stones.
Tatterdemalion! And him such a fine-lookin’ man,
But that’s what the drink done to Frank Kivlehan.
Boots of black glass and a Purple Heart,
Silver Star, Green Beret,
Three tours in Southeast Asia,
Though exactly where he’d never say.
Next time I seen him was in Astoria at AA.
He says to me “Terry, and I thought I was tough . . .
One drink is too many and a thousand isn’t enough.”
Born here, but the Old Sod stared him in the face —
Ancestry, a curse peculiar to our race.
Dreams malignant with the horrors of war,
Flashbacks, cold sweats, and the VA there to ignore.
When his Nuala died he went back on the sauce:
He just couldn’t bear the loss.
And that’s it, he’s down on the Bowery now,
And like a soldier still, living out of duffel bags,
With his Wild Irish Rose, his medals, and his rags.
Kilhoury, you’ll recall,
puked up his breakfast in the hall
on a rainy first-grade morning.
Even at six he was built like an ox,
so one bowl of Wheaties, give or take,
wasn’t gonna hurt his frame.
Now a kid with that name
and the displacement of a battleship
was destined to be a city cop
and that’s what he became:
Patrolman Kilhoury . . .
well, everyone here knows the story.
They sent him downtown to 1st Precinct,
pushin’ papers at HQ over on Ericsson,
till someone got a clue and gave him a beat.
His turf went from Warren Street down to Rector.
All the collars that guy made,
not once did he draw his gun on a perp . . .
they were too afraid! What’s this he used to say?
“I prefer a PBR to the PBA.”
And he was always tellin’ Nicky here:
“You can’t spell OTB without OT.”
He loved marching in the parade —
His people were from Clare and Donegal.
Then came The Call and he hoofed it
over to World Trade — world trade alright:
one minute he was there, the next
all six foot five of him was gone, simply dust.
Well at least he went out tryin’ to save others
and not on some meaningless bust....
Raise your glasses to Sergeant Kilhoury,
the Big Man brought this department glory.
Patrick Walsh was born in Queens. After college, he served as an infantry officer in the 25th Infantry Division. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Chronogram, and War, Literature & the Arts, as well as in venues abroad, such as The Malahat Review, Poetry New Zealand, Quadrant, and THE SHOp. A senior writer at Scene4 Magazine, he writes a monthly column.
Michael Coughlan is a Los Angeles–based artist who has exhibited work nationally in LA, San Francisco, and New York, as well as internationally in Denmark, London, and Tokyo. Recent exhibitions include shows at Stalke Gallery in Kirke Saaby, Denmark, and RDFA Gallery in LA. He is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and was a resident artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.