My Dead Comrade
for W. W.
my dead comrade–my great dead!
I sat by your bedside–it was the close of day–
I heard the drip of the rain on the roof of the house:
The light shadowed–departing, departing–
You also departing, departing–
You and the light, companions in life, now, too, compan-
ions in death,
Retiring to the shadow, carrying elsewhere the benediction
of your sunbeams.
I sat by your bedside, I held your hand:
Once you opened your eyes: O look of recognition! O
look of bestowal!
From you to me then passed the commission of the future,
From you to me that minute, from your veins to mine,
Out of the flood of passage, as you slipped away with the
From your hand that touched mine, from your soul that
near, O so near—
Filling the heavens with stars—
Entered, shone upon me and out of me, the power of the
seed of the rose and the wheat,
As of father to son, as of brother to brother, as of god to
O my great dead!
You had not gone, you had stayed—in my heart, in my
Reaching through me, through others through me, through
all at last,
A hand to the future.
Speaks with a Spirit
(inspired by W.W.'s 1881 letter*)
Speaks with a Spirit
that always marches men to hasten
endorsements of translations
of the eternal German-Russian transaction,
paraphrased at the utmost mysterious:
we consent - you and we!
our countries so distant, so unalike
each other, reassemble
unformed, nebulous, but agreed upon
as my dearest
binding the lands of earth
an internationality of poetry."
*See Complete Prose Works, Letter 2, pp. 1048-1049
of Walt Whitman: Complete Poetry and Collected Prose. Library
of America. 1982
Walt Whitman’s yearning
I am not his beatific
apricot buried in the bottom
of a garbage dump,
not the overmastered all-souled
Nietzsche who doesn’t weep.
am desperate and feminine.
Good at wanting, at walking
toward no solid end, at obeying
stripped arrows pointing to
the dead end café
where I eat all night
wait for him, my Walt,
my not another man
my self I never could stand
my I thought it was you
I thought it was Whitman
my his voice canonized to cry,
shaped to recognize you before
you had a chance to die,
before you pandered to existence.
am not Walt who taught himself
that one in all is one,
that two is impossible,
Walt happy to live.
I am Walt, the killing force,
the lonely effervescence that repels
who bore down the earth on his
weighted dumb bells,
who made everyone kneel,
few willing to give.
wear myself inside
out. If you miss
do not look now
under your boot soles.
am not yet plotted.
I keep my heart still
here in my mouth.
of your emprise, Walt,
En masse we are, taking your chuff,
Now as comerados in
A clinch, in a cantabile?
Debouching into this new
Eclaircising? Your eleve!
Effusions, inspired effulgently
By your blab, your yawp,
That fetches me close, that
I might hear the whispering
In my ear: He most honors my style
Who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
one, you’re lawless
To another, you’re enthralling
To another, you’re a danger and a challenge
And to another, death
But to amative me you’re an afflatus,
An avatara of rapport,
Spirting and jetting,
Swashing to the apex of my thews,
For accouchment not as sheeny similitude
But here in Niphon
(as like a pismire or a mossbonker as not)
In the posh ordure,
Scented and sidling through the float,
Not above haggling,
For comity’s sake,
Compending for the bent exurging,
For amies in the aliment,
For inherence in the gamut,
For congeve in the lumine,
The heft your formule, Walt,
I a hap lagging in your kosmos,
A historion gallivanting,
white horse-drawn carriage on Elm St.
Bride and groom both in white
kissing, floating with heart
foil balloons, gliding over
the cobblestone road
Two blocks from the prison
Three blocks from the Delaware River
Two or more blocks from the Ben Franklin Bridge
One block from Jorge’s Father and Son bodega
Two blocks from State Street
Salsa music and brown, bared chests
A billboard saying White babies are 10x’s more likely to live
than black babies
Four blocks from the new baseball stadium and
a semi-Spanish-looking Campbell Soup kid
Two blocks from the men moving a sofa balanced on a shopping
Four or five from the homeless man on the raised platform overlooking
Three blocks from the old shipyard
Five or six blocks from the abandoned RCA building
Four blocks from the street memorial for the murdered teenager
who brought his own mother to his prom
One block from Mancini’s liquor store
The Can I have a quarter, a dime anything you can spare corner
The Are you lost? corner
No I live here