Whitman: the Wall (Poem)

Michael Russo Uncategorized

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC I know this ground. I walked here once before, alive. A septic smell, still. In this place, tents, and my nursing, all through ’64. Or call it mothering. I looked in the face of dying boy after boy. But now this black winged wall, and other ghosts, their strange words: Da Nang, Khe Sanh. But …

Armory Square Hospital [Poem]

Michael Russo Uncategorized

Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C., January, 1863 — Carmine Sarracino, 2003 In Ward E, cot nearest stove: Erastus Haskell, Company K, 141st New York Volunteers. Typhoid. Diarrhea. (Killers deadlier than the minnie ball, the canister shot, the bayonet.) For the typhoid, stimulants: whiskey, and wine punch. For the diarrhea: cotton felt bellyband. Though burning with fever, he shakes with cold. …

Reading with the Poets [Poems]

Michael Russo Uncategorized

— Stanley Plumly, 2002 Whitman among the wounded, at the bedside, kissing the blood off boys’ faces, sometimes stilled faces, writing their letters, writing the letters home, saying, sometimes, the white prayers, helping, sometimes, with the bodies or holding the bodies down. The boy with the scar that cuts through his speech, who’s followed us here to the Elizabeth Zane Memorial …

A Civil War Veteran… [Poem]

Michael Russo Uncategorized

A Civil War Veteran from Indiana Recalls Visiting with Walt Whitman in a Washington Hospital — Robert, Krapf, 1993 Even now, as I stare into the fire, I can see him sitting there, that lonely old man whose eyes fluttered like quail roosting beyond the snowy white bush of his whiskers and hair. At first when I came to at …

Walt, The Wounded [Poem]

Michael Russo Uncategorized

— W.S. Di Piero, 1990 The whole world was there, plucking their linen, half-bald, mumbling, sucking on their moustache tips. Broadway was still in business and they asked no favors. All the cracked ribs of Fredericksburg, the boys who held their tongues at Chancellorsville as the bandages, mule shit, skin and shot overran the Rappahannock’s banks and poured it in …

Nurse Whitman [Poem]

Michael Russo Uncategorized

— Sharon Olds, 1980 You move between the soldiers’ cots the way I move among my dead, their white bodies laid out in lines. You bathe the forehead, you bathe the lip, the cock, as I touch my father, as if the language were a form of life. You write their letters home, I take the dictation of his firm …