Tom Stock


White whiskered words
Long strands on and on
Whole lawns
Sod farms rolling to the horizon
A beard full of crumbs
Whole pages, boxfuls of stanzas
Lyrical crumbs, musical crumbs
Poetry sea to sea
Ocean to ocean
Fresh, steaming, warm artisanal bread
The gravity of falling water
The rumble, the mist
Flowing evermore

Walt Whitman’s cascade of phrases, stanzas
“Take my photo, I am multitudes
One image of me is an image of us all.
Read me
Every whisker of my poetry
Are your whiskers as well
My songs of praise, of love
My songs of history, of working people.”

“He was born here.”
The docent says
“Take a peek inside.”
We are born here too
The docent in Camden
“This is where Walt Whitman died.”
He crossed the Delaware on the ferry
To visit friends in Philadelphia

Splayed across his chest
The wide scope of his white beard
A tumble of chants, of lists
Whisker upon whisker
“Whoever you are, come forth” {fromCrossing Brooklyn Ferry, section 13}
His chin hairs grew with his verse
He pleads, he instructs
“I will not shave this beard
It is as much a part of me as of you.’’
Wide enough, thick enough to cover the nation, the world
“Let it grow, it is our forests, our grasslands, our lakes and streams
I stroke it to shake out crumbs of words
Each fiber a divine proclamation.”
“I flush out verbs and
Literature falls from my chin.”
One hair crosses Brooklyn Ferry, another the Delaware
He is a nurse, a publisher, a printer, a loafer

Out of this thicket a trickle of fresh language



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