Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Poet as Superhero

This was my view today.

The Poetry Bus is enchanted this week, with my request that riders write about some aspect of their lives. On a wild hair, I tweeted Walt Whitman, dead poet famous for self-observation, and asked him to ride with us. He’s the superhero of poets who write about their lives on earth, the epic poet who heals the sick and conducts the universe too.
First he wanted to read all 1,347 lines of “Song of Myself.” No no no. Just a soup├žon, hold it down.
So here he is, the veritable Superman of Self:

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you ....
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-washed babe .... and am not contained between my hat and boots.”

Nice, Walt. That’s enough out of you.

Walt would be totally jazzed by the idea of American astronauts tweeting hither and yon and playing “Name That Land Mass” from space now that they have internet access. (Hey, how far exactly into space does the Web go?)

Thinking about stuff like this was what kept me from writing the poem I wanted to write today: “A Day in the Life of an Unknown Poet.” I know it sounds riveting but I just couldn’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times my mind buzzed off like a little blown-up balloon released from a kid’s fingers. Pffftttttt.

Look! The California Coastal Commission told L.A. that no one, not even that great sprawling asshole of a city, has the right to close access to California beaches even at night, like the city has always done. Pffftttttt.

Look at this crap about the global economy, currency valuations, portents of trade wars! Why did this U.S. Fed head announce on the eve of an international conference that Hey! the U.S. is going to fart around with its currency valuation and blow $600 billion into the national economy? Was that wise timing? Pffftttttt.

Oh, cholera in Haiti! and the U.N. peacekeeping crew from Nepal pretty much caught with their pants down. Now, that is real shitty. What a world. Pffftttttt.

Look! A gopher has taken up residence at our rental house next door, dining off apples and hollyhocks, lovely for him, double crap for me, who will now have to spend days hunting him down. Gophers aren’t allowed in my personal space. It’s a fight to the death. Pffftttttt.

Oh, and by the way, check out that madly growing morning-glory vine on the side of the rental house. Holy shit, it’s invading the kitchen!!!! Coming out through the kitchen cupboards and behind the refrigerator like a horror film. Double-double crap! Tendrils of tenacious, malicious morning-glory vine disappearing under the foundation of the house… This looks seriously bad. Pffftttttt.

Now it’s raining, lovely rain, pattering perkily on the glass roof of my office. Just another day in the life of an unknown poet.

Here are the wonderful poets riding the Poetry Bus today, as we tour the world and celebrate ourselves:

Rachel Fox

120 Socks

The Bug

Jeanne Iris

Dave King


Titus McKay

Carolina Linthead

Emerging Writer



Peter Goulding



The man himself: TFE


The Watercats



Dick Jones

And here is my Poetry Bus ticket, based on something that happened earlier this month: unzipping a box given to me by my mom, and unearthing almost 50 years of photographs.


The woman—
who refuses her gray hair with a blond rinse
—is not aged.

In her lives the young girl laughing in 1963,
before Jackie, John’s wife, and that bloody pink suit.
In her is the teen with solemn eyes. Alive and well in her
is the young woman in black robes and mortarboard,
smiling wide with a degree of joy she earned herself.
In her, the bride with wide hopes.
In her, the wide mother with child.

A parade of photographs marches around the bed,
playing the hymn of her middle-aged life. This gift
from her mother, zipped in a box, captures the roots
that ground her today in the earth of herself.

The passage of time has smoothed her rough edges,
leaving behind tracks of the years in her eyes.
You are a crone now, says her masseuse, kneading
the network of aches that lives in her shoulders.
You are the wisewoman who has found the answers
she sought. Lord knows where the diploma is.
That marriage is over, but the hopes remain.

The woman—
who has grown strong and weathered many storms
—still dances.
She hears the music of the seasons
and she raises her arms high above her golden head.


Titus said...

Oh, what a Trinity of a post!
The father, nicely abbreviated; poor mother earth and all her creatures on it; and then the spirit of your mother woven into words.

A poem of moments, indeed.

the walking man said...

Hey! Wheres the other 1325 lines? hahahaah

Have a good Sunday ride kiddo!

Brian Miller said...

keep dancing chris...

Rachel Fox said...

You dance, I sing... there's a performance brewing there somewhere! Poetry Bus the live experience!

izzy said...

To look back and see how the future self works! how it weaves and loops through time, connecting all the important elements... a song indeed,Good one!

Woman in a Window said...

Can I say, it spreads beyond the poem, and today I celebrate more than just your poetry, but the woman/the women that you are. (Your smart assedness speaks to me.)


Niamh B said...

am on board now, great challenge, thanks for the lift, back later to read around.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

:) This woman sounds like a gift in the present and a beautiful force of nature itself, a soul continuing to shine!

Dianne said...

hi! my poetry bus ticket is in the turnstyle. Does the turstyle have a Mr.Linky? ok, i wouldn't know how to use it anyway. Thanks for driving the bus, Walt, and you always have fine fine words Chris, we see what you see.
Have a fine new year,

Marion said...

Just wanted to say I loved your pearl of wisdom on your last post!

This post is awesome. "like a little blown-up balloon released from a kid’s fingers. Pffftttttt." Perfect!

What a truly lovely gift from your mother you found in that box. I'm glad you know your mother still dances!

I love this..."captures the roots
that ground her today in the earth of herself." I'm glad you know this, too!

Emerging Writer said...

I'm on board now with a kenning here

Helen said...

What a gift to read those Whitman lines once again

What a gift to celebrate your mother

What a gift your words

Peter Goulding said...

I'd have you over Walt any day. Lovely warm sentiments.

I'm up -

The Bug said...

Hmm - you're too pretty to be a crone. But I get the point. Love the image of you dancing. Rachel can sing & I'll play the piano (badly). On second thought we'll let the Watercats cover the music.

I think my rough edges are getting softened too - a fact which Dr. M (Carolina Linthead) appreciates.

Karen said...

I'm waiting at the stop:

Back to read and comment soon!

swiss said...

the photogrpahs as a parade. liking that.

mine are here

Karen said...

Not a crone, but a wisewoman, I think. You are one person who has really lived your life, Chris. I'm glad you dance.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Beautiful, brilliant. I can say no more other than how the feck do you keep doing It!! ???

Oh, and I'm on board.e

Shadow said...

what a lovely poem!!!

NanU said...

I'm on the bus! Well, partially. Over at

Such a thick subject. Rife with possibilities and worthy of much more than a few minutes reflection while running about with the weekend's chores.

the watercats said...

Very beautiful poem on your behalf there enchanted... This weeks challenge has been great! Didnt read any of the post before I did the poem and was surprised then to find mr Walt going on about molecules, lol! ;-)

here's my connection (for what it's worth.. cheers!

Dick Jones said...

You capture so well the sense of seamlessness (and timelessness) that comes with a parade of photographs viewed in the presence of their still vital subject. A moving piece.

I'm on board via my name as link here. I'm afraid my poem doesn't fit the prompt (which is an excellent one) for all my massaging of it! It's also the concluding part of a longer post. So keep digging down and you'll find it.

TechnoBabe said...

I love the poem on the passage of time and a woman's strength. Lovely.

Kat Mortensen said...

That's enough of you, Walt! Ha ha ha! Great! (she exclaimed).

Moving, telling and universal.

This was my favourite: "captures the roots
that ground her today in the earth of herself."

Really amazing, Chris!

I'm over here:

Dave King said...

Lovely piece on dear old Walt.
The poem is superb. For me it all crystallises around the middle quatrain. I can't tell you how good I thought that.

Syd said...

Whitman celebrates himself, and I celebrate myself. I look at the photos from the past and see the young spirit within, maybe only bowed a bit by the burden of other people.

MuseSwings said...

I love the "tracks of years in her eyes" and the entire poem. Wonderful! Glad your hair is still blond - mine still is too.

I forgot to stop back and tell you I'm on the bus here:

Niamh B said...

Just got back to read yours now. It's a really touching one. I think this exercise has been very revealing. Thanks again for a great prompt

Julie said...

I love your poem, Chris. The images are awesome, but the one that really puts a lump in my throat is the last one--her arms raised high above her golden head. I love your attitude. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!

Rachel Fox said...

I kind of ended up doing a part two - with singing! It doesn't need to go on the list - just thought you might like it.