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 soupçon, hold it down.
So here he is, the veritable Superman of Self:
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.”
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:
The man himself: TFE
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.
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.
who has grown strong and weathered many storms
She hears the music of the seasons
and she raises her arms high above her golden head.