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tearing the rag off the bush again
Sam Abrams on Walt Whitman, New Poems, and Misc. PDF E-mail
when I start to brood...




when I start to brood over all the stuff I have fucked up

because of my cowardice, conceit and sloth

I console myself that I never sunk so low

as all those eminent professors

who condone who even praise

the Library of America’s

so called “Complete Poems of Walt Whitman”


which is of course wouldn’t ya know

anything but complete


which is shockingly grievously  definitively



in it you will not find Respondez!

a poem loved and admired

by great poets

by Louis Zukofsky

by W.H. Auden

by William Carlos Williams


indeed Williams cited it

as the best example

of Whitman’s most important contribution


in it you will not find the poems he wrote on his deathbed

the third annex to Leaves of Grass called Old Age Echoes

which Whitman specifically authorized

for inclusion in any future Collected Poems


in the library of America

misnamed Complete Poems of Whitman

you will not find this deathbed gem

which Horace Traubel Whitman’s executor

included, as instructed by Whitman, in the 9th edition of Leaves   


Of Many a Smutch’d Deed Reminiscent

Full of wickedness—of many smutch’d deeds reminiscent –of worse deeds capable Yet I look composedly upon nature, drink day and night the joys of life, and await death with perfect equanimity Because of my tender and boundless love for him I love and because of his boundless love for me.

Wow!  Way to go!

That’s not the only homoerotic poem that you will not find in the Library of America Whitman.  At times, Whitman tried to hide his sexuality, so this poem in the printed edition read

Once I Pass’d through a Populous City

Once I pass’d through a populous city imprinting my brain for future use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions, Yet now of all that city I remember only a woman I casually met there who detain’d me for love of me.  Day by day and night by night we were together—all else has long been forgotten by me, I remember I say only that woman who passionately clung to me, Again we wander, we love, we separate again, Again she holds me by the hand, I must not go I see her close beside me with lips sad and tremulous.

But here is how the poem read in Whitman’s manuscript


Once I pass’d through a populous city imprinting my brain for future

         use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions,

But now of all that city I remember only the man who wandered with me,

         for love of me.

Day by day and night by night we were together—all else has long been forgotten by me, I remember I say only one rude and ignorant man, Who, when I departed long and long held me by the hand, with silent lip sad and tremulous.

Think what that could me to a gay youth, isolated in the provinces, burning for poetry, or to a sad old queen, lover of rough trade.

All in all in the false Complete Poems,

you will not find poetry

that occupies 94 pages in the Norton Critical Edition of Leaves. 

Some of these poems, including Pictures,

Whitman’s first breakthrough poem, are of great interest.

But don’t believe me.  Get ahold of the Norton.  Check it out.


How can it be that there is not sustained and vociferous protest against this phony edition?

This loud silence throws shame

on the pillars of the American literary establishment

shame on the universities

shame on Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago

shame on Naropa

shame on the endowments

shame on the National Endowment for the Arts

and on the National Endowment for the Humanities

shame on the state arts councils

shame on the departments of English, Creative Writing and American Studies

shame on all their esteemed professors

shame on the independent writers centers

shame on Beyond Baroque

shame on Poets and Writers

shame on the Poetry Project

shame on Writers and Books

shame on City Lights

shame on the reviews

shame on the New York Times Book Review

shame on the New York Review of Books

shame on the American Poetry Review

shame on The Nation and The National Review

shame on Harpers and The New Yorker

shame on the MacDowell Colony on Yaddo

shame on the Modern Language Association

on the Poetry Society The English Institute

shame on the Associated Writing Programs

shame on Harold Bloom and Marjorie Perloff

shame on the academies

shame on The Academy of American Poets

shame on The American Academy of Arts and Sciences


How could this shabby phony edition of our great national poet be allowed?

Doesn’t anyone see that emperor has no clothes on?

What kind of a country tolerates so faulty edition of its national bard?

What does this say about the prestigious institutions  responsible for its publication?

The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford  Foundation, Random House

what does this terribly deceptive edition say about our culture?

shame shame shame

why is it left to a fool like me to cry out against this injustice to Whitman, this injustice to readers this fraud, this toxic botch polluting the sacred well of the Muses?






I absolve from condemnation three brave editors who published my critiques of the edition: Andrei Codrescu of Exquisite Corpse, Ed Folsom of The Walt Whitman quarterly Review,  Stephen Merriam Foley of Modern Language Studies and Foley’s university, Brown. John Oakes and Dan Simon, of Four Walls Eight Windows Press, who published my book, The Neglected Walt Whitman.    I tried.

Ed. Note: Who’s your daddy?



In War George Washington

first fucked up November 1758

dusk dark deep in thick woods  somewhere

   in the wilds western Pennsylvania

Washington’s 1st Virginia  Regiment

fire fight!  fire fight! against

who who is it oh God stop

stop cease firing it’s

Mercer’s 2nd Virginia Regiment


40 casualties dead & wounded

officers & men  


the sages agree in war expect

only the unexpected


in the American idiom SNAFU

Situation Normal All Fucked Up


 Sam to Andrei, June 19, 2011


So glad you are enjoying your live stock.   Have you noticed that pigs hate to be laughed at?  Try it.  We used to have a tame 500 pound sow, raised by hippies who’d get in the pen and smoke pot with her….I could walk her like a dog…  when I took her for her annual breeding/fuck, she wd run up the ramp into the truck…but she got real pissed off when she found that the old boar had been replaced by a young un…


I guess you found the appropriate retreat...what cd me more surreal than dropping turkeys from airplanes?  yecch!


I also enclose revised IN WAR and pasted below my latest, of which I am inordinately proud, tho uncertain about burying the up/sleep ½ rhyme…




                  for barbara


60 years into a great marriage

what i can do for you


is not get you up when

 the pain won’t let me sleep                 




God I wish I was 1/10th as prolific as you, but console myself that I am about as prolific as Philip Larkin, who wrote what I consider the single greatest iambic tetrameter in English po : They fuck you up your mum and dad.


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