Iowa Writes

"O, Whitman"

you crazy son of a bitch,
how I love your boss tooth
and wet beard. You've made me

cry so I'm not afraid to admit you are
my father like others have, but O, Walt, here I am in Mannahatta
having commerce with boys like you and stretching
my hands through your fleeting atoms and firm America—
we both are gods.

And yes, self-love is not so vile as self neglect—how I crave
to cross the East River with you, or walk you through Iowa's
of yellow, women showing cattle at the county fair while the
wrestle in high school auditoriums, and the old farmers, never
trot through the V.F.W.s and hospitals as you
once did, only then as a nurse to broken men.

I love you for being civil war peacemaker, above so many
boys at their last hour, not for your love of their sculpture
or even their spirit, but for their being—leaves of grass
burnt by fire, and how I wish to lay aside you, both
as ash and apple.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Craig Moreau received his MFA from New York University and attended the University of Iowa for his undergraduate studies.  He lives in New York City and recently was a teaching fellow for NYU's Veterans Workshop.  Chelsea Boy is his first book of poetry.

About the poem:

"O, Whitman" originally appeared in Chelsea Boy, a collection of poems by Craig Moreau, published by Chelsea Station Editions in 2011. It is reprinted with permission from the author.

This page was first displayed
on May 21, 2013

Find us on Facebook