by Patrick Walsh
I lived in an Elysium strewn with orchids, bougainvillea,
Hibiscus by the roadsides as if chucked by profligate gods;
Plumeria perfumed the breeze that bowed the palms
And set their fronds to click and clack like vegetal chimes.
Vanquished time; undying days put the calendar to rout,
Like starting a stint in solitary in the middle of the night —
Day in, day out and no mortal bearings, only the tides
Governed by an indifferent moon amidst a swoon of stars.
Camouflage concealed me from the eyes of other men
But could not hide me from myself. I knew my name.
Or back in barracks in starched fatigues, spit-shined boots to mock the sun:
A gold bar on a collar gussies up a hired gun.
Gulches seething with guavas; valleys overrun by verdure
Sprung from red volcanic clay; paths littered with the corpses
Of rotting passion fruits; through this incomplete Paradise
I slither, like that famous snake so unjustly maligned
For bringing death where once there had been only life.
After graduating college in 1989, Patrick Walsh served four years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division. He later returned to school to receive an M.Phil. in Anglo-Irish literature from Ireland’s University of Dublin, Trinity College in 1997. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Christian Science Monitor, Evergreen Review, The Hudson Review, and War, Literature & the Arts, as well as in venues abroad, including The Malahat Review, Poetry New Zealand, THE SHOp, and The Quadrant Book of Poetry, 2001-2010. Recently, he had a poem in the March issue of Chronogram magazine.