An Ode to Walt Whitman or, Driving to the Golden Gate

(Note: This was written on a beautiful day in Northern California. No wind, a high pressure system, temperature around 80; the kind of day during which you just can’t help but feel good.)

Driving to The Golden Gate or

 

An Ode to Walt Whitman

I

With a “Celtic Wedding” thump, thump, thumping in my ears,

I string my way like sea foam

along the continent of

North America

beating an invisible bodhran

to keep the Irish time.

It’s a day made of, and for, poetry

and I can feel the benevolent leash of my soul

tugging me on,

til I’ve come upon Davenport.

 

A busy little jewel is Davenport

A town built with brick and timber and constructed of poems

where behind the market counter, a little girl reads little girl romances,

travelers like myself stop to stretch and refresh

and waitresses cater to the internal fire.

 

Alongside the road, a group of land speculators

have stopped to survey the world,

to them the earth is on sale,

and perhaps it is,

even to the poor speculator such as myself,

as I purchase the land and sky, sea and shore

with a heart and eyes which shine as brightly

as any silver coin,

or in my pocket,

copper.

 

Do I make a profit from such purchases?

well,

not in cents,

but in senses

as my very pores open to the promise of future investment.

 

II

Lighthouse points are made of brick and stone

and are the I’s , eyes, and Ayes

of ocean folks

and the protectors of wooden ships

that navigate the zig-zag sea

but they are no more stationary than

You or I

for at night they dance on their lily-pad cliffs

and swim with the thick, elusive fog.

 

Woolly sheep graze

poets dream

and at Half Moon Bay a hitchhiker

waves his last two dollars in the wind

he’s a desperate man but today

I’m traveling solo,

in the company of God,

and am not in need of the companionship of man,

and besides,

I couldn’t have taken his last two dollars

and I am sure that someone else soon will.

 

Seabirds, trees, rocks, and weeds,

they’ve all come to congratulate me

for my freedom

and are thankful, that I’ve heard their call.

And as I return their words of praise,

follow their flight,

and contemplate the bend in their forever

I begin to write while still on the road so as not

to lose the lines that offer themselves like

lifeboats,

but then I opt not to enter

their finely planed hulls

nor sit neither stem nor stern

preferring to swim at my own pace,

and slowly,

at the will of what might lurk beneath

conceiving but never confining.

 

III

The Golden Gate

Gateway to the West

Refuge of the East

An eclectic myriad of men, women and culture,

a global village is San Francisco

painted white to reflect her light into the world.

On the bridge my hands sweat with vertigo-thoughts

as the land relinquishes itself

to the Bay

and I, high above the prospect of the sea,

rejoice in the wonder of the Pacific Northwest

and hiking beneath the bridge,

I stop to eat a pauper’s feast,

then sit like a pelican,

pining away the day

_________________________________________________________

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