In the Highest

“Write like Whitman
out of ache and love.
And don’t put on the dog.
Originality is over rated.”

Bareheaded, ruddy, wrinkled in the forenoon sun,
DuMond McBride hitched his crotch
and lit his second Lucky.
He sniffed, not so wise with age
as stuffed up with it.

“Making sense don’t matter much
as long as you sing.
Words got to sound.”

He must be eighty, DuMond McBride,
born in the village where he’ll die,
coughed and spat and sowed spoken seed
up in the Catskill country.

“It’s here in your hands
your head and the hills.
Words got to connect.”

He stammered and rumbled and spun out
his version, like the front porch preacher
or the Saturday morning Prof.
He told his truth
each phrase spoken like the low distant rhythm
of thunder beyond the ridge.