The Same Three Chords

Of course I applauded after Whitman sang a song of himself.
That's what you do when you're 17 and desperate to show up looking literary,
aspiring both to be a girl of three-ton thoughts and weightlessly spontaneous.
(Truth be told, I was neither.)

But really, when you're twice that age, and appearances mean squat because
who's looking anyway, Whitman seems as much a navel-gazer as the rest of us.
And sure he's good, but is he really that good?
There, I said it.

I picked up Leaves of Grass
again last night, and thought so what, big deal,
I'd rather read Mary Oliver
or Wendell Berry
or just listen the voice of the evening trees
shushing the crickets to no avail.
(Who am I kidding? I'd settle for reading anything not Fancy Nancy.)

Sometimes (most times) I'm perfectly happy just to live this un-acclaimed life in all its non glory.
And let Whitman go on in his transcendental scandal, forever changing the face of poetry,
none of it mattering one bit to me.

I have a favorite place, my Walden Pond,
Where I am the least pretentious,
And the most at home in my skin,
Where I'm not quite as prone to make myself the center of the universe,
Where I could sit for hours
And not go mad or ache one bit lonely.

It is
Where my children breathe deep, fall still,
Where his chest rolls like the top of a tiny ocean,
Where I can squeeze only half of myself (even sideways) next to twin-sized slumber,
Barely enough to whisper dreams in her ears
and tuck her in,

and tuck him in,
and carry them both
like catchy little notes in a melody I can't stop humming.

They are the first two
(and their father the third)
of the same three chords
I always play
When I sing a song of myself.


Linking up with Emily (one of my new favorites) for Imperfect Prose on Thursdays.

p.s. I'm well aware of how ridiculous I must appear to infer, via free verse, that the very father of free verse who indisputably changed the face of poetry, "isn't all that." But don't take it personally, Walt, because all the people with opinions that actually matter think you're amazing. So clearly, it's not you. It's me. (I'm just not that into you.)

p.p.s. I cringe whenever I post poem-ish stuff here on the blog. It's as if my 14-year old self says to my 36-year old self, "Staaaahup, you're embarrassing us!" Why is it that poetry feels way more personal and vulnerable than plain old prose, even when the message is the same?

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