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Thanks to a residency at EcoHealth, my verse these days finds inspiration in the specter of future pandemics; for my dissertation at LMU München, where I tutor composition and edit a poetry weekly, I'm anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson's sonnets—I also teach at MVHS and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.


Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman


The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain, 
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string-piece, 
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band, 
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead, 
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs. 

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there, 
I go with the team also. 

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing, 
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing, 
Absorbing all to myself and for this song. 

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes? 
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life. 

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble, 
They rise together, they slowly circle around. 

I believe in those wing’d purposes, 
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, 
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional, 
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else, 
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me, 
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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