Walt Whitman’s birthday – new poem by Paul O’Mahony


Lines composed on the birthday of Walt Whitman (1819-2016)

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean” (Walt Whitman)

There’s a lot to be said for waking before dawn
in a strange bed
with friends next door
– especially if you stretch to a bookcase
crammed with unfamiliar words
fingering spines,
loafing at your ease.

Better still, when the bard of democracy calls:
Pick me, pick me, take me to your heart,
I’ll grow your spirit.
– his beard promising you adventure.
– a smattering of rain strumming on mullioned glass.
And you reply “Hey, why should my finger linger?
Why draw you to my side?”

The first light swells,
‘the wilderness of unopened life’ grips you,
and sings of ‘passion, pulse and power’
– as a barnacle to a rock.