Sunday, May 31, 2009

Walt Whitman

So today's exercise (inspired by Walt Whitman's birthday yesterday) was to respond to his poem asking us to justify him. Well him and poetry. Or something like that. Anyway it was Tom's idea.

Walt Whitman

Dear uncle Walt
I am lost in Baltimore on this
Beautiful day-after-your-birthday.
I have lost my sense of why
We create and share poetry,
Why we humiliate ourselves
On a regular basis, scribble
Words on long sheets of paper,
Stand up to reveal to each other
Those thoughts so private they would never,
Should never, otherwise be examined,
Why we congregate in out of the way corners
To demonstrate conclusively, consecutively,
That poetry will not, can not, draw more
Than a very few to hear it for a couple hours;

Walt Whitman, is our answer in
The rapid staccato of rap and slam?
Are they your true successors and we
An unwanted genetic remnant, a spur,
A tailbone, a dead end sign, a
Bridge to nowhere?

Where are your proud descendants?
Where the strong men and women
Who stand for the cleanest, straightest
Lines, who reach beyond convention
For truth, who stand in the fire
And sing poetry?

Walt, you are our mirror today.
We must work harder than we
Ever have before to justify the
Shoulders we stand on.
And on your unshakable platform
We can prepare and plan to build
A trapeze, a trampoline, another level,
A new world.

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