Celebrating Walt Whitman   3 comments

Lowell Mick White Reading at the 2008 Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration in Conroe, Texas — Image by kenne

A Supermarket in California

  What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I
walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-
conscious looking at the full moon.
   In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the
neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
   What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping
at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in
the tomatoes!—and you, García Lorca, what were you doing
down by the watermelons?

   I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
   I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork
chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
   I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following
you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
   We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary
fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and
never passing the cashier.

   Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the 
supermarket and feel absurd.)
   Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add
shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
   Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue
automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
   Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what
America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you
got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear
on the black waters of Lethe?

— Allen Ginsberg

3 responses to “Celebrating Walt Whitman

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  1. Oh, thanks for sharing Allen’s poem! It’s one I wasn’t familiar with, though it certainly reinforces the inspiration of Whitman on the Beat. Do we dare wonder what either of them would make of Covid?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting thought — anybody’s guess. However, Whitman dealt with a lot of death.
    I love Ginsberg’s reference to García Lorca by the watermelons. Shows global respect by artists for Whitman.
    “Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
    have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies . . .” –from Ode to Walt Whitman

    Like

  3. One more here, glad to see and read that Ginsberg poem and to think of his underearth kinship with Whitman.

    Liked by 1 person

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