What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me . . . Walt Whitman


In birds: the crow, the bold pigeon, a chipping sparrow on the windowsill,

Common grackles or boat-tails chatting and thieving the coast and feeders,

Even gulls, laughing or otherwise, who Kate Bell says are being forcibly evicted

From Brighton-Ha!-as Londoners condemn them for being common

for not dressing well, for being too many, for refusing to be quiet

Which brings up another thing, this being unquiet, this common anger

About common things, like lack of bread or po-lice at the door,

with common questions-We just need to ask a few questions, ma’am-

Nothing could be more common for the common poor than to look

Into the shiny buttons of a uniform, held up by an aggressive person commonly

Named Officer-while her family hides in fear or is called into the common room

To face interrogation, a common occurrence, we say, in her neighborhood.

And what about our defense of the commons? the natural and cultural resources

Accessible to a people, like water, air and earth? Like the deepest conversations,

Earnest prayers for the children we love in common, and common-law love?

But wait-those are being attacked-we need an army of commoners to fight for them!

And I ain’t even started writing about the two white-tail does and four fawns

Who commonly nibble my shrubbery every morning and endure a hunting season for it-

Their quiet repose, their watchfulness and deep attention, their velvet desire

To live, to let us live, to leave off rancor for tender green nuzzling-ness.

So common, our desires. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

We have to act on our desires before somebody puts us in cages

On some reservation at the outskirts of a pearly white heaven

Just within sight but don’t touch . . .

And what about this common love of ours-this body love, bright and dazzling and desperate-

The most available compensation of the poor, most fought for, most fought against-

-There are cities in this world where people kiss, you know. Commonly.

Let’s build one here. Close enough to walk to.


3 thoughts on “Common

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