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How many readers did Walt Whitman have?


How many readers did Walt Whitman have 
At any stage in his career 
From none to hundreds to thousands 
But never enough to satisfy the nudge within 
For fame for bursting places for the energy within 
For vision struggling for a foothold 
on the consciousness ladder of a crucified nation

He hit the road 
He walked the walk 
He plumbed his own self 
Like a sweet water well 
And spewed like crystal fountains 
All his dreams 
At first a tiny handful read him

How long does it take for a person to be part of another's mind 
Why would one wish to be

Better to be observer 
Not inclined to control or own or be the center of anything 
Finally words written impact only for their power to represent 
What's real and 
What is real is what we already know 
Each one of us 
And for this reason 
Words themselves expire as they are written

I think Walt knew all this and finally was able 
to be content with a few friends in Camden 
Thinking yes 
I have been read 
But if none had ever turned a single leaf 
The answer to it all would simply be 
That I was right most terribly 
And wrong most terribly 
And that it made no difference 
Finally

And that's because my 
Yes was true 
And finally that means not me 
But you 


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