Treasure Island

David McLansky

(5/24/1944 / New York City)

Urbanization and the Irish


Below the Sperrin Mountains
In County Tyrone
Reigned the King of the Fairies
Who sat on a throne
Made of old pine and oak
And hazel and elm
Cut from the forest
His magical realm.

The forest was sacred
Called Cortin Glens
And the old king had reigned
Since I don't know when:

He was crabby and sulky
He had aches in his bones
And he hadn't laughed
Since dinosaurs roamed.

The forest below
The mound called Mullaugcarn
Was home of what's left
Of the wee leprechaun.

For the longlegs called humans
Had begun to expand
And threatened to chop down
Every tree in the land.

To build houses called Condos
Of the ugliest sort
Made of pasteboard and glue
So the salmon report.

With their bulldozers and cranes
And their wheel barrel trucks
The forest would turn
Into muckety-muck.

It sure made the leprechauns
Feel out of luck.
Where could they go?
It seemed they were stuck.

King Fintan was told by a
Well-traveled bird
Known as a Jackdaw
(A name that's absurd)
That when humans moved in
The first thing they did
Was to cut down all trees,
'Would I you King kid? '

'Are they daft, ' said the King
Who was known not to smile,
Will they have us be known
As 'The Muddy Brown Isle.? ''

Said Old King Fintan
As he coughed and he sputtered
'We'll stand up to man
And churn him to butter'

'Will the Elm and the Hazel
Calmly stand by,
Let the Pine and the Oak
Be cut down and die?

'Can we let the longleggers
With their road building machines
Pave over our valleys
Our carpets of green? '

We too have powers
Derived from the land,
Like Owen of old,
We'll stand up to Man.'

Now the King had a nephew,
A mere sprig I was told,
Just a wee two-foot lad
Only 1200 years old.

'We must rally our young
To the flag of our cause,
Now what was his name?
Was it Sanity Clause?

He rode on a reindeer
He'd be good in a fight,
Naw, he only goes out
For only one night.

Where are my brains?
What of Tuatha De Danann,
Now there was a fairy
To foil diggers plans.

Now where did he live?
In the Kingdom of Shee,
It was not long ago
That I bounced on his knee;

Naw it couldn't be him
He is older than me,
When who should pass by
Sheba Banshee

Sheba Banshee
Was just passing by
To alert old McGuffin
He was going to die.

She said to the King,
'You must pay me a penny'
She started to sing,
'You are thinking of Lenny.'

'Ay, yes, cousin Lenny;
Who's up for some stew?
My thoughts are so many,
Yet I have nothing to do.'


'He's your only nephew, '
Sang Sheba quite rattled
'And what about my penny? '
Are you getting addled?

'For what? ' cried the King?
Giving Sheba the eye,
'Here's an old onion ring
That I've had since July.'

Sheba just sneered
And took off like a rocket;
The sly grinning King
Returned the ring to his pocket.

'And now Senior Jackdaw,
About what we were talking?
Look to the skies
It's a fine day for hawking! '

The Jackdaw looked up
A dour look on his face,
'We were talking about how the humans
Are going to level this place.'

They'll chop down the forest
Of this magical land;
And when they are done,
Just a few trees will stand.

In what they call front yards
A splatter of green
Which they cut on the weekends
With mowing machines.


'Cut down the trees,
By my knobby-kneed shin! '
Said the King to the bird,
'Who'll make oxygen? '

'With their smoke stacks and engines
Coughing oily black fumes,
We'll soon have McDonalds
Renting oxygen rooms.'

The King asked the Jackdaw
As it started to rain
Which festival's closer
Samhain or Beltane?


Is this the start of the Winter
Or the first day of May?
Look my thumb has a splinter,
It's quite foggy today.'

'You don't know the season, '
Said the wily Jackdaw
'Than you're too old to be Chieftain
By Old Celtic Law.'

'By the hound of Cuchullian
By his old Ulster paws,
I'll not be berated
By a silly Jackdaw.'

The jackdaw, insulted
Just heavily sighed,
'Oh, don't take my word,
Ask the Hawk or Magpie.'

'Do you think I'm so foolish
To take the word of a bird?
Why everyone knows,
Where wisdom is heard.'

'We'll ask the Three Wise Salmon
In the brook pollen burn,
They're as learned as a freshman
Omagh, second term.

Salmon travel widely
They're a well seasoned fish
They're even still thinking
As they lay in a dish.

But the three Wise Salmon
To the old king's chagrin
Agreed with the Jackdaw
'You too old to lead king.'

The King strutted and limped
Then winced with the pain,
'Why I'm spry as a toddler,
Oh, give me my cane! '

'But who else can lead
Our warrior band? '
'LENNY! ' cried the fish
And they spoke as one man.

The King told the Jackdaw,
'Have Lenny come here,
And bring me my helmet,
My armor, and spear.'

Lenny lived by a waterfall
In Ulster County
In a trunk that was hollow
In old bog oak tree.

The Jackdaw found Lenny
Repairing old shoes,
'Orders from the King,
Newly issued.'

'Appear before the king
This very day.
Stop what your doing,
You do know this is May.'

'Why we've just feasted on Beltane
Of course this is May! '
'Just checking, ' said the Jackdaw
Who then looked away.

Lenny took pride
In his red coat and hat
In his shiny black boots,
Over which he wore spats.

He tucked a gold pouch
Beneath a silken green vest
Which contained a gold coin
He had found in a chest.

While the Earl of Kildare
Burnt Omagh to the ground
Guess who stole his gold
Which never was found?

Just a short time ago
In 1498
Lenny invested his gold
At a good interest rate.

Which made Lenny quite rich
Richer than the King
Who spent all his gold
On fried onion rings.

Lenny hired a coach
Driven by a gnome
To take the back roads
To County Tyrone.

His horses were dragons
The kind that are flies
Their wings flashing silver
Red/green were their eyes.

Round Primrose and Blue Bells
The dragonflies flew
Over hedges and tree stumps
Through grass dripping dew.

Over soft bunnies noses
And hayricks and barns
Over stone walls and warrens,
Past cowlicks and farms.

Faster and faster
The gnome whipped the carriage
You would have thought he was running
From his bad second marriage.

Lenny stuck his head
Out the window and asked
Is there a particular reason
We're going so fast?

He was struck in the face
By Hawthorn and Knapweed
The driver just laughed
And put on more speed..

Lenny was jostled
And tossed round the cab
He was whipped in the face
By dried Yellow Flag.

The dragons flew upward
Harrassed by the pilot
As if chased by the Foxglove,
Dog Rose, and Dog Violet

All of a sudden
Came a shudder, a violent shock
For a moment Lenny thought
They had hit a Shamrock.

The driver leaned over
To make a report
He was coated with pollen
From a stout Butterwort.

With a whip and a snap
They climbed Ballix Hill
Which was covered with Clover
And Bloody Cranes-bill

The gnome cried, 'WHOAH'
As he pulled on the reins,
Lenny fell forward
And scrambled his brains.

'Gortin Glenn Forest, '
Cried the flower spat gnome
'Home of King Fintan
Of County Tyrone'

Bumped and bedraggled
Tumbled and tossed
Lenny stepped out of the carriage
On Vipers Bugloss.

He was met at the station
By King Fintan's Banshee
Who went by the name of
Miss Moneypenny.

'Your late, ' said the Banshee
'The council's assembled,
I hope you brought money,
You know there's a fee

Unless you are short,
Said the ancient Banshee,
'If you give me a kiss,
'You can get in for free.'

The old Banshee puckered
Her lips like a frog
When her old face was licked
By a big hairy dog,

It was Lenny's pet pooka
An Irish wolf hound
Who licked her three times
Before he got down.

The ancient Banshee
Was as blind as a bat,
'Oh Lenny, that was lovely,
I so enjoyed that.'

Lenny stepped forward
And tapped on a tree.
'Pooka transform,
Pretend you're a flea! '

Pooka was a shapeshifter
He could be anything,
A goat or a rabbit
A knot in a string.

The door in the tree trunk
Opened quite wide
Lenny called to the flea
And they both stepped inside.

They entered a room
Packed with loud Leprechauns,
Waving shields and shillelaghs,
Beating on borans

Oh, what can I tell you
Of that glorious throng
Of their hot martial fervor
Spirits lifted in song.

The King of the Fairies
Rose to his feet
And raised up his flagon
And stood on his seat,

'I give you your general
He has entered the Hall
He has the heart of a lion;
Full twenty inches tall.'

The Leprechauns roared
Amid a hoisting of mugs
From the slaps on his back
He fell on the rug.

The King raised his glass
And called out for order,
'We'll defeat the longshanks
Right at the border.'

A loud cheer went up
A growl that was raucous,
Len said to the King
'I think we should caucus.'

But the Old King stood swaying
Exalted in mood
Just a wee bit tipsy;
He started to brood.

'I would lead you myself,
But some say I'm disabled.'
He scowled at the Jackdaw
And fell off the table.

Len was lifted on stage
And commanded to speak;
'I'm not used to large crowds, …'
His voice thin and weak.

'At the Grotin Glens Forest
We'll here make our stand
For only we Leprechauns
Know the measure of Man.

'They've fouled the sweet waters
Of our rivers and streams,
Cut down our forests
With bulldozer teams.

'And for what, I now ask you
Have they despoiled our fair land?
To build cheap claptrap houses
Of plywood and sand.

'Man has no sense
Of natural beauty;
To protect our jeweled land
Is our civic duty.'

'With our sly fairy powers
We'll corrupt their machines;
From this very hour
Not a kettle will steam.'

'Not a toaster will toast
Not a fireplace will burn
Not an oven will roast
Not a mixer will churn.'

'Their needles won't thread,
Their screw drivers won't screw,
Their engines all dead
Their coffee won't brew.'

'Their ice won't stay cold
Their lights won't stay on
Their cheese turn to mold
Their electricity gone.'

In the hall there was silence
Ah, the craft of this plan,
Such tactics were brilliant
They felt pity for man.

Lenny rose to his full height
Twenty-six inches three,
'On this very same night
There will be no tv! ! ! ! '

A wild gasp and commotion
Went round the great hall
For they fathomed the notion
Without tv man would fall.

From years outside windows
In the blue of the glow
Puzzled Leprechauns watched
Man watching shows.

It was like an addiction
Like needing poltoon
In the wee late night hours
They even watched cartoons.

Without their tvs
Surely Man would go mad
It was easy to see
Man's taste was bad..

Lenny summoned all the fairies
To cast one great spell
There were flashes of lightening
That sparkled and fell.

All over Ireland
The TVs went dead
The lights flickered off
A great darkness spread.

At first there was outrage
All the fuses had blown?
Before dark tv sets
Arose a great groan.

Right in the middle
Of The Galloping Gourmet
The TV went black
Even Queen for a Day.

The popcorn stopped popping
In the microwave ovens
Fridge lights went out…
In the dark, people shovin'.

People stepped out
Into silent dark streets
Which were full of stopped cars …
Not even a beep.

In the neon lit pubs
With their chilled bottled cheer
All became blackness,
'Well, it's back to warm beer.'

All the papers stopped printing
The radios went dead
The newscasters went sprinting
So that rumors were spread.

All restaurants went dark
Except Chinese Hunan
Leprechaun's love
Moo goo gai pan

Only the hospitals
Continued to blaze
Doctors and Nurses
Gave the government praise.

Emergency rooms
Were filled to the gills
Everyone wanted
To watch Benny Hill.

Electrical experts
From U. Aberdeen
Called it a virus;
We were soon quarantined.

The Great Irish Famine
Of electricity
Deprived them so cruelly
Of watching TV.

Eventually the Irish
Being so cursed
Had to emigrate all over
And were widely dispersed.

They moved in the millions
All over the earth
And wound up in New York
In Hong Kong and Perth.

There to this day
They watch their TVs
Living in cardboard
Box communities.

A few hardly souls
Clung to the land
And lived in thatched huts
As Nature had planned

Lenny, like Prometheous
Gave them peat fires,
Horses pulled Fiats
On Michelin tires.

The Irish longlegs
Relearned how to talk
And now it's a pleasure
To hear them on walks.

They speak of their history
Known as B.B.B.C.
Their children read books
And only dream of TV.

And what clever talkers!
What art in their tongues!
How they go on
What blasts from their lungs!

Some of the wee folk
Sit round their peat fires,
(Of course in the shadows)
What glorious liars!

What tales do they tell
What merry keen wit
It's hard in the darkness
To quietly sit.

They must hear us giggle
And gaggle and cough
Len once laughed so hard
He fell out of the loft.

Of course he right scampered
Quick out of the door
How glad was he that
The light was so poor.

Ireland once more
Is an emerald green isle,
Its pastures of velvet
Even makes Fintan smile.

Lenny walked back
To his home in the Shree.
Inspecting the flowers
As slow as a bee.

Ireland is free
Of its postage size lawns
Its tidy neat hedges
Its ugly fake fauns.

Above all, its forests
Roll down to the sea
And in its soft velvet foliage
Fairies sport merrily.



The End


This poem was written in collaboration with Ann Key-Colten

Submitted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Edited: Sunday, March 02, 2014

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