Whitman Photograph At La Sebastiana


On Cerro Bellavista, in Neruda’s fourth-floor study,

I saw the large photograph of Whitman in pinstripes,

Whitman in Valparaiso looking out on the city––

Its tangle of streets, ships & bordellos, its

Pomegranates & balconies, news stands &

Kites lost in trees, its amorous passions of lovers

Kissing on benches oblivious to the dangers unbuttoning

The heart in its cracked windshield of going.

In my forty-seventh year, we three in that

Happy cosmic hour spoke of the inevitable caminos

For them who love iniquity, who claim Death’s

Power as their own, who know not that only

Those things that cannot be shaken remain.



Valparaiso, Chile

29 July 2000



[Published in Quien Sabe Mountain:

Poems 1998-2004. © 2004 by Jim Cohn.]




Quien Sabe Mountain
(MAP Publications, 2004)