Sunday, August 1, 2010

Whitman Re-imagined

I missed the past few weeks responding to the writing prompt over at Big Tent Poetry. This week's challenge was a doozy, so I thought I'd try to get back into the act.

The goal: write a poem placing a pop icon in a mundane, domestic situation. Yikes. If you check out the results, you'll find some fabulous responses: a sordid take on Martha Stewart after dark, Jack Bauer making dinner, and more.

I had a lot of trouble thinking of what to do with this one. So I put kind of a twist on it. I imagined what Walt Whitman would think if he were alive in the year 2010 and working some dead-end office job. Is Uncle Walt the pop icon the Big Tent folks had in mind? Probably not. But I think it works just the same.


O 2010!
By Ben Curran
(after Whitman)

O me! O life!  Here in perpetuity, confined to endless days a spiral of monotony:
Awake, arise, dress, drive, work, perform, text, review, adjust, count, type, tweet...
Stranded to repeat today and day the next within windowless walls,
One more day tied to these spreadsheets, bound to this net.
One more day confined to this cubicle, tortured by the cursed blinking cursor.
One more day among those that stalk the concrete, bombarded by
    wars on terror, carbon, recession.

Questions abound--Do you ask them, too?
What has brought me here?
What have I become?
What will it take to sever my ties?
From whence comes the strength for escape?

To break free from that which binds my spirit and mind,
To grow my beard and wistfully tread among the flora of the forest:
    Baneberry, chicory, pensternon, more.
To know no obligation to desk nor outlets nor walls.
To dig my hands deep in soil and feel nutrients coursing into me.
To contribute my verse to the pages of the anti-modern world.
To never go back to the trappings of Man.

O me! O life! This new unavoidable question:
What now?
Satchel strapped. Life unplugged. Caution tossed.
Onward toward the answer.


  1. I think you did Uncle Wally proud. A true Song of Myself in this year of 2010, a barbaric howl that the teaming masses could and would march in response to. Hope someone finds that answer.


  2. Fantastic piece! I really like the third stanza..the listing of flora. Beautiful.