after Whitman
Starting from roast-beef-scented Buffalo, New York's nose, where I was born

Well-begotten, and raised by flawed, complete human beings, both mother & father

After roaming mostly the Rust Belt, lover of mountains, rivers, & skyscrapers alike

Dweller in Nashville & Knoxville & Seoul & Amsterdam—all my cities

Having studied words & music & life's vital forces & more words, and the edification of young minds,

And having hated the education of young minds, how & where to organize & compile words, for no
            great or lasting purpose

And finally heard, at all hours, the voices of Stevie, of Smokie, of Joni, of Laura the Unrivalled One—
            hermit, mother, heralded by trumpets

And the swell of a massive silence alike—

Solitary most of the day if I'm lucky, singing in the car & shower, talking it out with myself, swearing
            at computers & tools & myself

I strike out for the metropolises of this Known World—searching for street food & beer, the music of
            each city, the music of all peoples, their plazas & the lights adorning them, the bridges &
            forest paths & observatories, the hip-hued groove beyond language—

An arm around my shoulder and nod in the right direction when they see

I am American, and do not know the words or the way

  • This poem is a pastiche of Walt Whitman's Starting from Paumanok.
  • When I arrived in Madrid, I was wandering through the city, looking for my hostel. The owner (who was chatting outside) saw me from 50 feet wearing shorts, a t-shirt, & hiking pack, and said "American? Looking for the hostel?"