Walking in America with Walt Whitman

by Bryan Owens


“what is the grass?”
-a child

What a fine form for your reincarnation
Walt Whitman, this hill
the end of Haddon Ave
a kind of exposed belly
& your crypt, a jewel in the navel.

Stand and walk with me awhile
the neighborhood, its lawns
should be a fine green plaid for your torso
the smoking chimneys, your charred brick fingers
against the sky.

Your veins & skin
have long since been filled
with concrete & commerce
and Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center
your unkempt beard.

This cemetery can be your trousers, now
pull them on & stand & walk
where you taught us to lean & loafe
to spiral the blade of grass
around one finger like a magic spell

to cast your fate on stolen land.


Bryan Buchanan Owens holds an MFA from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. His work aims at the democratization of mental health care and his poems strive for the kind of clear thinking which may help us experience poetry and life more richly. His work has appeared in New Ohio Review, San Pedro River Review, The New Writers Series Anthology, Grist, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine, Inscape, Primitive, The Centrifugal Eye, NANO Fiction, and elsewhere. He is a writer and teacher living in Indianapolis.

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