Friday, November 1, 2013

Whitman And Wilderness \ Gulls For Congregation

Alan: At some point, Whitman became for me an avatar of the social and ecological awakening America needs, a sort of constructive Paul Bunyan, ever available to our imaginations, alive in some archetypal realm.

Whitman And Wilderness

Walt Whitman strode to the top of the rise and flopped down
     on the grass heavy with care.
He looked West to where the wheeltracks swayed toward the horizon,
     to the thin pall of smoke of the far-away burning.
“They need me there” he thought, “where the wilderness begins.”
And Whitman looked South to where the hard sun hammered the
     earth and the people were drying like uncut corn.
“They need me there” he said, “where the wilderness begins.”
He turned North where the snowclouds smothered the hearts of men
     and the animals crept into themselves and wept.
“They need me there” he roared, “where the wilderness begins.”
And he gazed back East where the city covered the ground and men
     and all things coughed and groaned and stumbled blindly.
“They need me there!” he sang, “where the wilderness begins!”

Walt Whitman had gone up that hill to die, but when he looked
     around him he saw, and swore, and flung his straw hat in the air
where the wild birds caught it and tore it and took it to
     every direction of the circle of earth.
And he started out after to mend it and set it aright upon his head
and he never stopped once,
mending and singing,
where the wilderness

Nancy:  Out of sorrow and pain comes unexpected strength.

Gulls For Congregation

gulls for congregation
     he died so quick
body churched still
     sixty six
traps to haul

engine catching a rough psalm
     he left a strong daughter
she was his boatman
     tied the dinghy to the mooring
left the harbor

water for benediction
     his life counted
sixty six sixty five sixty four
     good years bad years
and the water sighs and heals itself

a ledge a cleft a leaning spruce
     he will rest now
mist in the trees light on the water
     last rites
for a lobster fisherman

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