On Walt Whitman’s Penis

Thomas Eakins, on acquiring a newfangled contraption, desired to point his machine at naked humans and capture their souls. Old man, seven photographs was the title Philly’s most famous artist gave the portrait in question. Was it Walt Whitman? Who stood, “undisguised and naked” a flaccid phallus hanging, begging, questioning the viewer?

An old man, comfortable in his skin, although flabby and wrinkled and beaten by time, a body proud but sad, still empowered, posing for not just the artist but the future. Thank you, Walt for exposing your body non-electric. Curse you, Walt for the ambiguity of your sexuality. We in the 21st century are identity obsessed. We need to know what we can label you and your past cannot clearly be defined.

And yet your dick pic is so personal I feel like you sent it directly to me. Your belly protruding like mine. Your knees all busted up like mine. Your back dimples deep over your buttocks like mine. Your well-honed skeleton slumping in the frame. Your words well-crafted which is what should be deemed worthy. And yet personal controversy is what propels you. Were you a personal mentor to a young man? Or were you a pedophile masquerading as a pedagogic?

Were the accusations against you made by homophobic academics? Or did you abuse your power like so many men before and after? There is no black and white with words, only lessons to be learned.

South Philly Love Poem  

I will drink you like water

because you don’t drink enough

and that’s why you have migraines.

I’m already eaten alive

this is the after effect

a voice in the ether.

Let’s sit on a cold metal bench 

underground together and not speak

but listen to the world fall apart

above us.

You’re already a memory

to me and if you die

suddenly I will know

it had to happen

since nothing so good can last.

Let’s walk through the city

apart from one another

and never meet

but know we’re not lost

just wandering.

I’m already dead

hit by a SEPTA bus

and left to bleed out

on a corner in Point Breeze.

You’re listening to the sirens wail

to the west as you stroll relaxed

down East Passyunk.

So many screeching vehicles

machines that humans just ignore

you will learn about my death on the internet

it wasn’t the driver’s fault.

Please don’t read the comments

under my obituary on philly.com

it will only make you upset.

Don’t be upset I was already

doomed my future crumbled

by causes predetermined before the big bang.

Let’s speak to each other

in imaginary scenarios

our cellphones on airplane mode

and our bodies empty from want

and your migraine slowly fades

for love’s just life reborn.