Grain / You, Walt Whitman

Bradley R. Strahan

in the gray wood
in the reptile skin
in the grimace and grin
of played-out fields

a flicker of green to gold
to hard brown stubble that pleads
the modesty of snow
against the grain a grain of hope

against the choke of guns
and even louder the chink
of stone against the spade
and the blade slicing the grain


You know, Walt, I had given up on you,
Thought you just the pompous
Stage presence, old “god in the machine,”
Who opens the scene for our verse.

Now, I realize that you are the nurse
Who birthed us all,
You, showman-seer,
Bard of Brooklyn, Camden, and every burg.

You are the yes in Sandburg’s people,
The howl in Ginsberg’s throat,
The laughter in Ferlinghetti.
You are that Swede, that Jew, that Italian…

Simpson met you at Bear Mountain,
Ginsberg in a “supermarket in California.”
Even Pound, that reprobate, made his peace
With you, father/mother of us all.

Bradley R. Strahan

Bradley R. Strahan is a former Fulbright Professor of Poetry and American Culture (2002-2004). For twelve years, he taught poetry at Georgetown University. He is the director of Visions International Arts and the publisher of Visions-International. Since 1976, he has developed a worldwide following of his work, which includes several books of poetry.


in the gray wood in the reptile skin in the grimace and grin of played-out fields a flicker of green to gold to hard brown stubble that pleads the modesty of snow against the grain a grain of hope against the choke of guns and even louder the chink of stone against the spade and …

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