Whitman Inspired Days

This morning I feel as if I had a Whitmanian moment.  I woke up feeling like dirty socks after a night of too much soda drinking, and I had an experience that not only helped me transcend my feelings of sickness but also reminded me of our good ol’ pal, Walt Whitman.

By no means do I consider myself a poet, or even one who can easily understand poetry, but I have been very inspired these last couple of weeks by Whitman’s poetry and free formed writing style.  Thus, I decided to write a poem today for the blog; a Whitman inspired poem if you will:

A Squirrel and a Boy

I rarely look out my bedroom window,
Elevated on the third floor between the Ansonborough House,
(where the old folks go to fade away)
And the green house whose inhabitants are ghosts to me.

There is not much to see
Besides the scraggly branches of the dying tree,
And the rusted old roofs.

This morning, however, a flick of movement caught my eye,
And I was drawn to the pane.
Resting on a branch was a squirrel,
And we crossed paths for a while.

Me in my room
With my feet planted on the dirty carpet,
The computer humming for papers to be written,
The clothes piling up in the corner,
The bed sheets crumpled in knots,
And the shower running for the incessant need to feel clean,

And the squirrel on his or her branch
Resting on its stomach,
Four pointed feet dangling in the air,
Tail hanging loosely,
Black eyes giving away no hint of anxiety.

For a split second, The squirrel was in my room,
Now a giant squirrel with gross responsibilities pressing in on its furry body,
And I was on the branch,
A small boy carelessly swinging in the tree.

Then the squirrel leapt,
And I was left
Standing in myself.

I recently put in bird feeders around our apartment building, and it has been amazing to see the life that has flocked to our building because of the bird seed.  Where as before all we had were rats and bats, we now have birds of various species and beautiful gray squirrels.  How does all of this have to do with Whitman you may ask?

Well, every time I see these birds I think of Whitman.  Whitman understood and wrote about how nature can unify humankind.  No matter where you are, unless you are in some dungeon or cave, there are birds flying around.  The installation of the bird feeder just reminded me that simple acts can cause larger acts of beauty.  Whitman was beautifying the world with his poetry, and I think he believed that this beauty would rub off on people and in turn encourage them to perform their own beautiful acts.

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3 Responses to Whitman Inspired Days

  1. Cali O'Hare says:

    I love that Whitman manages to get into our heads and remind us of him even in the smallest of occasions. I bet Walt would be thrilled of your connection of the bird feeders to him. I was really struck by the point in your poem where you are able to trade places with the squirrel just briefly. Although squirrels are rather spastic I always tend to think of them as very brave, dangling from branches and scuttling down thin power lines. Anyway, I couldn’t help but try to imagine a brave squirrel who feels no anxiety of being so high up attempting to take on the life of a college student in today’s world. I came to the conclusion that even the squirrel would have an anxiety attack here or there.

    Anyway, on a slightly less serious note I couldn’t help but think of the dog from “Up” when I read the title of your poem, Charles.

  2. Justine Rowe says:

    I have to say that for not being a poet I think your attempt is fresh and interesting, and I am positive Whitman would be proud. I really enjoyed reading your poem, it seems well-crafted and thoughtful. I love the fact that Whitman inspired you to seek connections to nature. When thinking about Whitman I tend to think more about his desire for connections between people and celebration of nature, but I overlook the fact that he urges a connection to and communication with nature as well. Thank you for reminding me with your post and your poem to pay more attention to nature as Whitman would have wanted!

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