Whitman in the Ward at Chatham

A water-pail sits beside the bed.
Pieces of bloodied muslin fill it
to the brim, adding iron
to the sweat and rot in the air.
The man struggles to breathe,
panting his way to no man’s land,
a wounded deer with my reflection
in his dark, glazed eyes.
I charge myself, an acquaintance
at best, to stay until the end.
I wish for a quick death.
There’s nothing to be done;
he will die without kith or kin,
the ordinary chat and business
of the ward continuing indifferently.
I will be the sole witness.
Moving from Fredericksburg
into a realm beyond, he will see
another army approach,
only to realize it’s a herd
of lost sheep too tired to graze,
gathered only to bleat half-heartedly.


The town of Lisbon, unsurprisingly,
is Porto’s rival; their geographic closeness
creates shared qualities. Both coastal cities
boast neighborhoods whose snaking alleys, fading

ochre facades, and ancient churches breathe
medieval histories. While Gaia’s banks
are lined with port-maturing lodges, Lisbon
is home to fado’s melancholic airs,

performed in living room-sized restaurants
that fill bellies with lore and steamed white fish.
Just off of bumpy, cobbled roads, cape-clad
tunas strum folk tunes till the city glows

with nightlife’s neon signage. Navy-black
skies yield to dawn. Dense fog creeps in beside
the trams whose nineteenth-century routes remain
unchanged. The Tagus flows seaward as always.