Whitman’s Ghost Takes a Tour of the City

The goddess sits in the axhandle park:
she would give more grain, but corn won’t grow
in our streets.
The trees can lift their arms skyward,
but their hands and hair sprout flames.
Indidolons time,
when the old shade goes loafing (though evening
can’t come any closer). Could he manage disembodiment
before now, the fire of the flower would still
be there by chance.

But you, knowing the richer reds
and deeper blues appear briefly at dusk
then withdraw into their own flame…
He goes out at evening, shirt long, baggy as a coat,
his white beard flows from the sack-like face,
the outstretched hat-brim;
he has made himself bewildered: Where are the poets
chanting to the multitude? The headlong, vulgar, robust
freedoms of the crowd? Is there only you?
Bleating out this quick-flaring image? You chant
the gawk-shuffle, art-patter, and wonder how the plant

ever let you in. The inferno of the city blazes
around us, we detail its hidden lights.


Ray Hinman’s poetry collection, “Our Cities Vanish,” where these poems were previously published, is available on Amazon.com. Read more about his work at Our Cities Vanish: Poetry by Ray Hinman.