Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Walt Whitman on Donald Trump

  • 03 September 2018


Selected poems



Dream, on a morning in the sacred month of OctoberFor Father Gabriel Rochelle


In the bardo,

huddled and waiting with others

after our life reviews,

each making ready for


our atonement, you entered

the vestibule to our right

bearing a large wooden cross.

Wordlessly, you spoke to me


to rise, and to follow; whereupon,

we walked into yet

another room — an anteroom,

which led outward, back into


the world, not as we know it, but

yet another world. This is when

the cross came apart

through your own ingenuity, and


broke cleanly through the middle,

lengthwise, to become two crosses,

of which you handed one

half for me to carry, and the other


half you lifted to bear

on your shoulder. Upon awaking,

I am now both cleansed

and challenged, given direction but


needing to reset my compass,

buoyed up but aware of the weight

of the new I will need to carry, as

I find my way from the vivid depths


of the dream on a morning

in the sacred month of October, as I

emerge toward a shimmering

of light breaking through the clouds.



The sunflowers

Their large heads loomed above me,

arrayed with their bright yellow petals.


Row after row of them arranged

in lines to the right side of the house


and adjacent to the garage in the back.

At nine, I looked up at their creaking


stalks on autumn days on my way to

and from school, and looked down


on their ranks from the glassed-in

porch of the second floor railroad flat


my father rented after my mother's

death. I was overcome by their yellow


brilliance and the size of their corollas,

which exceeded the diameter


of a human head. Our landlords were

an elderly Albanian couple who moved


slowly and spoke incoherently, as my

Polish father did, in broken English,


their red and white oilskin tablecloth

always graced with a small white bowl


of sunflower seeds for the enormous

caged parrot, who could swear in


impeccably explicit language. The bird

was menacing but obedient to its owners.


Although any visitor was treated

as a home invader. He would begin


by hissing, then moved into a barrage

of curses. The Albanians winnowed


the seeds from their crop after

deadheading the flowers, their kitchen


table having become a staging area

for putting up kernels. After the harvest,


deep in October, the plots

where the sunflowers loomed became


desolate with dried stalks the wind

blew through, with a sound whose tone


underscored the sereness of autumn.

I looked at the stark rows from


the glassed-in porch upstairs, where

I had been stung by a wasp, which made


my finger throb as if it had been hit

by a hammer, but the memory


of the glory of the sunflowers in bloom

continued to fill me, as do the rays


of sunlight that shone