It's weird how every American around my age remembers this fear so vividly, while those born ten or maybe even five years later seem to have escaped it completely. Is this why the Boomers are so screwed up? It's probably why they're so obsessed with safety.
This is one of my favorite poems. For years I assumed an Buile was a strange Irish surname, but I learned when I started drawing this stix that it is actually an Irish-language term for a madman. (As far as I can tell it's pronounced so as to approximately rhyme with will ya; Tomas, the Irish version of Thomas, is pronounced toe-MOSS.) So the poem is what crazy Tom said -- and you can imagine a crazy Irishman saying it, can't you? It has that combination of belligerence and sentiment and grandeur that I associate with Irish literature, as well as that combination of realism and fantasy. This sort of thing happens to Irish people sometimes, they have conversations with God.
It may seem a bit hubristic of me to have cast myself in the role of Tomas an Buile, but I dreamed a line from this poem a couple of weeks ago and woke feeling encouraged. Anyway, I have enough Irish heritage that my grandmother had a misspelled Irish name before she married. To the extent that any Irish name can be spelled right or wrong; the Internet informs me that it was originally Ó Súilleabháin, so really, who's to say that Sullavan is less correct than Sullivan?