Reveille for Two Poets
George De Gregorio
Wake up, Walt Whitman!
you’ve got a message:
America is still singing your songs,
you’re on the top 20 list
with the rappers and the throngs.
Lilacs still bloom in the dooryard in the spring
and the Song of Myself still holds.
Wake up William Carlos Williams!
a telegram for you sir.
Paterson is still alive and teeming
as Latinos and Blacks and others
yearn to breathe free.
Your Catholic bells are still ringing
and the Red Wheel Barrow
is still catching water.
Your little old sleepy hometown
is breaking out the glad-rags to celebrate you 125th
with a symposium of your songs — ad infinitum.
Don’t laugh Walt! Don’t laugh Carlos!
Your poetic clout still keeps America singing.
Together, you bridged three centuries
to this historic moment:
Obama, a black man,
and Hillary, a woman, together
are the first of their kind
to trade gibes in pursuit of a nomination
for President of the United States.
In the bank the other day
your songs were on full display.
The young teller was a beautiful Thai girl.
Her nameplate told it all:
she had become Mrs. Harrington, USA.
Get the pitch, Walt? What do you say Carlos?
America is still singing your triumphant songs.
Your songs of prophecy have lasted longer
than you had hoped.
Your songs have spawned an epidemic
which has infected 300 million;
there’s no telling what changes they will bring:
a calm or a whirlwind.