Walt, As I See Him

6-foot-7 & 73 years old

Moved from Rhode Island to

New York City at 19.

Sang in mafia bars,

sung on broadway,

worked as a bouncer.

Then I imagine he

bummed around, walked Paul Simon’s

streets of cobblestone

for twenty-odd years.

At 50, he found himself

in the words of Philip Levine.

Learned poetry in an LA furnace

that made grown actors sweat,

crack and cry.


Utah is where he hangs his hat now,

a black ball cap

that sits on the table in front of me.

He sets down a fresh notebook,

hands me a pen,

lectures me on Ezra Pound,

tells me the rules of poetry

and asks me to ignore them.

“Write me a line of poetry” he says,

so I write a couplet which does not satisfy.

“I guess you’re clever” he says flatly.

No time to be delicate.

“If it doesn’t rhyme, what makes it poetry?”

I do not know, because I haven’t read

much of that, and never written it

but I muster “I suppose it’s a broth

made from the bones of prose.”

I was proud of that.

“Maybe you’re right, hell if I know.”

He challenges me to write

one good, clean sentence,

and if it means anything,

it’s probably poetry.


This poem is about: 
My community


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