Walt Whitman, We Miss You!

Dear Walt Whitman,
up in Heaven
(I'm sure you're up there!),
how often I think of you,
when I am in New York's Penn Station,
or Newark Airport,
or on the city Subway,
or strolling through Bryant Park.
Seeing all those people,
lost in their thoughts,
or heading home or away to exotic places.
The dazzling symphony of tongues,
English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew.
The young black guys from the 'hood
and the white wannabes,
with the oversized baseball caps hung over their ears.
The adoring husbands and wives proudly
pushing bright-eyed innocent cherubs in strollers.
The bent, wrinkled elderly, walking slowly with canes.
The spiffy corporate execs, men and women,
striding confidently, shouting into cellphones,
or fingers dancing on Blackberries.
The glum Goths, tattooed arms, hair dyed blue
and black, pierced eyebrows glistening.
I think of your "Mannahatta":
"The city of such women, I am mad to be with them!
I will return after death to be with them!
The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy,
without I often go talk, walk, eat, drink, sleep, with them!"
And most of all I think of your "The Sleepers",
which brings tears to my eyes every time I read it:
"I wander all night in my vision, Stepping with light feet,
swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,"
I think of how you open your loving arms to all of humanity,
And your magical way with words.
Oh, dear dear Walt,
If you were only back with us,
You would have a ball!

--Kal Wagenheim

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