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"JFK" a Poem by Jerry O'Neill

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JFK

by Jerry O’Neill

 

It was late in the Autumn, as November slid past its ides,

When those tragic shots rang out, and they came from all sides,

Just precious moments before, smiling and waving, while never possibly discerning,

You were being viewed through scoped sights, fanatical trigger fingers were burning,

Then came the flashes of lightening, and the sickening roar of thunder,

As a fusillade of bullets pierced the Nation’s heart, and ripped our Chief’s brain asunder,

America’s very soul was crushed, as its Standard plunged past half staff,

A National tragedy revisited, another slaughtered presidential calf,

American eyes were transfixed, tears poured and cascaded blurring believing,

A terrible sadness had begun, from which we would never stop grieving,

As Air Force One stood at attention, at that airport strangely named Love,

You lay as cold cargo, as Lyndon Johnson was sworn in above,

As Biset’s “Agnus Dei”, was so softly sung at your final Mass,

We knelt in numbed silence, thinking how quickly youth and greatness can pass,

When Cardinal Cushing tearfully reminded us, we’d see your smiling Irish face no more,

Your shattered Nation stared stunned, as it was pushed through reality’s door,

As the Mass droned on, our mind’s eyes focused on your Inauguration Day,

To that brilliant frosty January morn’, when the world heard you say,

“Let the word go forth”, those words echoed in History’s ears,

As we marched off with vigor, to your bold New Frontiers,

The torch that was passed glowed brightly, as we slept on dirt floors,

As countless lives were rescued, by your Sargent’s Peace Corps,

Your Alliance for Progress was to provide a new climate of hope and opportunity,

For Central and South America, as the Alliance worked to eliminate disease, hunger, ignorance and poverty,

To the inherited Bay of Pigs Disaster, that hurt the Country’s and your pride,

Another Profile in Courage, you took full responsibility, you never lied,

After this fiasco, you learned that you could never again trust the uncontrollable C.I.A.,

When you said you would blow them into a thousand splinters, the die was cast that day,

Mistaking your youth for inexperience, with missiles the Russian Bear played,

As you backed them off our borders, with your determined grey steel blockade,

This confrontation showed the Russians and the world, the depth and strength of your resolve,

And lead to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would cause the threat of Nuclear war to dissolve,

Your visions grew star bright, as you looked up to the sky,

When in a press conference you told the world, to the Moon we would fly,

You knew where future’s future was, as you guided our hand to reach out into space,

As we set sail on a celestial sea, which was to become America’s place,

Your citizens had no colors, as you tried to lift us all to new heights,

When against all political odds, you laid the foundation for real civil rights,

You went to Germany and told the world, democracy would win,

You repeatedly invited those who doubted you by saying, “Let them come to Berlin”,

Over one million Germans cheered you wildly, as you told them proudly “Ich bin ein Berliner”,

As the sands of your time with us, grew thinner and thinner,

Your trip home to Ireland, was the quintessence of the fulfillment of the Irish American Dream,

As the spirits of those long gone before and those standing there, embraced you in a constant loving stream,

On October 11 you signed NSAM 263 which would have withdrawn every American from Vietnam,

That let slip the jackals of assassination, who observed you with deadly snake like calm,

Even in our deep sorrow we can’t help but smile, as we see you in your conferences with the press,

Your natural Irish wit, charm and spirit, that nothing could suppress,

As those precious memories come back to us, in brilliant freeze frame picture flashes,

We bowed our heads in sorrow, realizing that our Camelot now lay in ashes,

It was to be the world’s great loss and to America’s everlasting shame,

That we surrendered you so early, to the flicker of Arlington’s Eternal Flame.

©Jerry O’Neill

 

Wearin of the Green 2017 at IAHC

Wearin of the Green at IAHC 03-05-2017

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