Brian Clements invited Maureen Seaton and I to contribute to Every Atom, a project he curated to celebrate Walt Whitman at 200. (Read Brian’s introduction to the project here.) Maureen and I had some reservations about celebrating Whitman. Despite his queerness, he was racist. You can find stark reminders of that in his work. (Read about the controversy at the Poetry Foundation here.) You can read our contribution to his legacy at the North American Review or check it out below.
On the Occasion of His Birthday, Whitman
Whitman was a Gemini, loyal and easy-going.
Also nosy, untidy, and prone to prevarication.
He was gold, a wall of forevers, a tidy room
inside a house with one room. He fractaled
into plots of synesthesia and chutzpah, a man
in a time of many men, a time inside a time.
When he pivoted and sang, the ya-honkiness of
his voice swayed men into hats and talismans,
footholds, and spotted hawks. He lay on his
deathless bed and left the world glowing.