Review from

Cleary, Daniel.
The Green Ribbon, Enright House of Ireland, 1993.
54 pages, paper, no price indicated.

Reviewed by Whitney Scott.

Multi-talented artist / poet / Irish tenor Daniel Cleary left his native Tipperary, Ireland for London in the early 1960s and came to Chicago, where he remains. He's brought with him the musical lilt and pleasing rhyme schemes that move his poetry, creating a series of lyric images portraying his homeland, celluloid's Marilyn Monroe and Fred Astaire, and Chicago intersections.

In "Homesick" he writes:

Homesick for hills, for fields, for streams; Homesick for mountains too it seems
For windy skies for country roads;
For little picturesque abodes.
Homesick for trees, for fruits, for flowers, For happy, sunlit July hours;
For sudden mists, for silver rain,
For things I may not see again.
Homesick for friends, the brightest, best;
For long untroubled nights of rest

He recalls Joe Di Maggio's rage and the public's delight at that famous scene in The Seven Year Itch as he salutes Marilyn:

You, your skirt billowing above the grate of the subway
As the train roared beneath; they used a
Blown up version of the scene above Times Square
To advertise the movie when it first appeared.
You were our goddess then, a remarkable icon -
Wispy, ethereal, every mans secret dream
(the woman he loved next in line to Mama)

Later he laments

another casualty in the eternal quest for youth and beauty;
That glamour that must eventually fade

And yes, his images evoke green lands of comforting familiarity, even for those of us who'll never set foot on the Emerald Isle just as he inspires nostalgia for Marilyn and the era she defined, now gone but never faded or forgotten as long as film preserves her pouty lips, her full, ripe curves and knowing, tempting innocence. Perhaps it's Cleary's knowing innocence that tempts the reader, the listener, draws us in to experience seemingly simple, straight-forward poems complete with end-rhyme and elliptical thought scenes, all tying together to form something more complex and satisfying than simply the sum of its parts.

--Whitney Scott

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