Mars Stolen Away: The Genius Of The American Poet Walt Whitman

I’ve been away a long time. I’ve gone to heaven and back. The hostile folly of the handmaiden’s rope twisted in my hands.

The flaming spirit of the dervish is in this whale belly of mine. I have no sugar for these children. I have no blood for these children.

I have no more hallelujahs for them. I have to return to Jerusalem for that. Say you’ll accompany me to America where a distant cousin lives with her olive-skinned children and Mexican husband. Keep me safe.

Keep me warm with your powers. Your redemptive powers and sacrificial lamb, you, you, you blind Christ.

You a sleeping Jesus. The living room is a child. A hurricane. The living room is holy. Is obsessed with me, filled with manifesting elders and priests. I put on a fur coat. Sit in my car in the garage mindful of shellfish growing old, growing in the cold sea, growing wings in their natural habitat. Growing like boy and girl into man and wife.

Mindful of Whitman, Sexton, Plath, Lowell, his Bishop. Pound. Amongst the cans of baked beans, behind the pilchards.

In the kitchen cupboard there’s the park bench where I can see dead people and grandchildren. Where I feed the ducks bread. In my mother’s house life here is urgent. I call her nomad. Stingy. Alchemist. Safe house. She calls me blue. She calls me tragic nun. She wants me to drown even though I come armed with an escape plan. I make her tea (a hemlock). The sugar pot comes crashing down onto the floor. There goes my hero.

In my skull there are poets and playwrights. Oh, I am no longer young.

I yell, I kick, I scream. I am not in the right frame of mind. There is no one who loves me. I have lovers. They tell me I’m beautiful. I sleep with them, share with them the secret language of flowers. I share my seed and river-harvest with them. They never stay these lovers. They are always on the move. They are always debasing me in a myriad of clandestine ways.

I only know what love is when I’m in bed with the sea-river. Hold him, hold my man down so he doesn’t disappear from sight. I’m turning into my father. Inside the iceberg there are three dawns. They contain the self, the truth and the divine. They don’t know the process. They don’t sing, can’t talk, their black veins, their neon light’s gas don’t know anything about the project management of the sun, that there’s a big world out there. The fire of the stars, the green velvet of the grass. The great barriers in my way.

France and Spain. The clumsiness of the monk fish in my hands. There’s the mathematics and science of bipolar. The work ethic of the cell. Value-based sacrifice. Change isn’t instant. Nobody debriefed the planets about this. Maybe they aren’t all activated yet.

They’re missing Neil Armstrong’s perfect score. They don’t know his perfect answers. I am dandelion-greedy for the stirring, the heartfelt and the beautiful. I know this investment is going to a good cause.

Anything else would have been boring, holding onto a lifeline.

I think of the bee, the drone, the queen all rebels in the cell. I get that feeling of the breaking of the dawn into light and day. This is for every English teacher that I have ever had. The age of innocence of all about Eve, Eden, all about the rib, eye, the masculinity of Adam. While I fade away. Rest, rest. You can see it in my face, hers, his, all the infinite beauties of the universe turned into sonnet. I’m turning into my mother. No pain. No gain.

No action. No plan. My mother is the snow jewel. I am leaving my sorrows behind.

Planting them on Salt Hill. No moles burrow there for fear of turning into Lot’s wife. I find the seagull looking back at me through a crack. I just want to stay in bed all day long now that Rabbit’s gone into time for all of eternity to turn into atoms and particles. I have to chaperone childhood. I am suffering, struggling, overcoming. I think of the concrete specific detail of his passing. Watch the kitchen clock on the wall. He won’t be coming around here again. He’s forever young. But that’s not who I want to be. God decides.

My mother said. I feel like hell. Sometimes pain is art. Sometimes art is pain. You never came to see me in the hospital. I asked you, my mother asked you, still you did not come.

There’s pity and fear and catharsis in that. I think about age, and mountain and reality. I don’t want to think anymore of people leaving my life before I do. You’re my meta-lament.

I’ll miss you every day of the rest of my life. Think of what we spoke of last. I still have so much figuring out to do. What do you do when someone throws a spear at you.

You write a song to comfort the brokenhearted, you have a discussion with a playwright, or an intellectual or a leading intellectual or an influential intellectual or a Christian leader.

All I am is this tortured loneliness, this unhappiness, this unfulfillment for a moment.

When you write a song, you become a poet. You live in exquisite agony when you’re a poet but when you sing there’s the beginning, the birth, the escape, the triumph and the return. I wish I could say that to be in a class of your own is a divine romance.

I wish I could say I was happy, I was loved, I have a daughter, I have a son. All I feel is devastated. What is individual healing, what is private retreat, it is a rare view and a perspective seldom seen or acknowledged. It is a tale of three kings and a portrait.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.