Walt Whitman in the Hospitals of the Civil War

As many of you will know, it’s just recently been the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth – that amazing American poet of teeming cities, meditations on life and loving, and of course that great and terrible experience of the Civil War. My poem, selected for this celebratory collection, Endlessly Rocking (ed Stan Galloway and Nicole Yurcaba), takes as its point of reference, the figure of Whitman as he travelled to the hospitals of the Civil War, horrified by the scale of the suffering and spectacle and beauty of so many violently damaged young men.

The poem is dedicated not only to Whitman himsef, that ‘bewhiskered emissay,’ but to my friend, fellow writer and Whitman -o-phile, Lindsay Tuggle.

Impossible: a mourning cycle

This is from a cycle of poems written in memory of my dear young friend, Sophie Ellis. This particular poem is for her mother, my dear friend Kerry.


Detail from Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ (1488-89), St Peter’s Basilica

Pietà

For Kerry Dawson

Lay her here,
heavy as stone
across my shoulder, breast, the generosity of lap;

I long for this weight

Let the cataract of her hair fall
over my arms, across my face,
covering my eyes:

Child of my blood and sinew,
beloved daughter of my dreaming,
turn your face toward me
again,
here, into the crook of my neck;

I have shielded you before:

And in the hollows of the night when
my arms lie useless and
desperate for you –

then lean against me again,
returned to me on this crushing
tide of longing,
scooped out of darkness –

be present and
homed
beside the persistent beating of my heart.

Drifting….with Mary Oliver

I wrote this paper a few years ago now in Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledges – but I’ve been returning to this ‘epistemology of wandering’ as evoked so wonderfully by Oliver’s poetic.

Ramble! Enjoy!


‘Drifting in the Weeds of Heaven: Mary Oliver and the Poetics of the Immeasurable’

http://www.rhizomes.net/issue13/lucas.html

Experimenting with Sijo

Last week I did an inspiring workshop with Mark Tredinnick – a whole day dedicated to listening to, writing, thinking and talking about poetry. He introduced us to the form of the Sijo – a kind of Korean version of the haiku. I think I may have taken some liberties with the form, but here is another I wrote today.

Autumn Morning

You don’t have to go far   to feel the kindness of the

Light      to sit in a well of quiet sun beside the rosemary, the

Crush of mown grass, the heaviness of spent lavender    nodding as I pass.