The Ballad of Jenny Greenteeth's Lover

by David R. Sullivan

Fool Tom O'Dunne of Kill-Breedya,
   he once saw river-hag,
ould Jenny Greenteeth in waters
   of gold and duckweed sagged.

She was a thing of mottled flesh,
   a Peg O'Nell of spite
who'd drown children to gnaw their bones
   in river-barrow night.

But Tom O'Dunne, the fool he was,
   he saw a bonnie lass,
a gentle thing of flowered hair
   as fine as cow-grazed grass.

So sat he did in peat-sod house
   and wept by chimney flue,
and thought her fey as giants, kings,
   and evil Iron Shoes.

But ne'er he found those waters where
   he'd seen that bean sídhe ould,
that river-hag of mouldered gums,
   of weed and kingly gold.

So on he strode to crossroads where
   the robber corpses hang,
where hawthorn creaks and pipes are played
   by weeny fairy gangs.

There Tom O'Dunne met Gruagach,
   ould goblin in the air,
a frog-toed sídhe as eerie as
   the Pooka of Kildare.

"Ould Tom O'Dunne, me bonnie lad,
   what brings ye here this night?"
said Gruagach of frog-webbed toes
   o'er misty thickets bright.

"Fair Jenny Greenteeth, Gruagach,"
   said Tom O'Dunne in tears,
"for finer lass of flowered hair
   I hav'na seen in years."

Then Gruagach, he swooped and laughed,
   and pointed finger crooked;
"Ould Wicked Jenny's yonder there,"
   said goblin with a look.

So on he ran, fool Tom O'Dunne,
   to mountain river gorge,
and whispered into waters dark
   where Jenny Greenteeth snored.

And up she came from gold heaps bright,
   a Peg O'Nell indeed,
a green-skinned water-demon with
   her hair of straggled weed.

"Och! Jenny Greenteeth, come, my love,"
   said Tom, and groped flesh sagged,
"I'll be your groom in waters deep,"
   and grinned then river-hag.

And Tom O'Dunne, he gaped and saw,
   and no more fool was he,
but Wicked Jenny pulled him down
   where dwell the Daoine Sídhe.

David Sullivan enjoys tea with leprechauns and forgotten teddy bears, and has been known, on occasion, to make cats smile. When asked to name his favourite fruit, he replied, "my favorite fruit is pumpkin, Celtic Stingy Jack's gourd that, for me, conjures up Halloween trees and headless horsemen and bumbling pedagogues with grasshopper legs."

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