I | Teen Ink


December 12, 2008
By Anita Carroll BRONZE, Carmel, New York
Anita Carroll BRONZE, Carmel, New York
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Inspired by Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

“ Song Of Myself”


We share the universe, you and I.

It is ours.

When the morning presses its sweet breath against the bare-chested earth
We hold the sun in our callused palms.

I am the rays of sunshine that pour through your window
Like water from an overturned glass;
you are the vivid hues of the aurora
That paint the fresh-faced sky.

And every celestial body that has ever been
Touched by an errant star in the December sky
Every tuft of verdant grass that has sprouted from the
Raw soil of the saint’s bones
Is ours.

The realist with the horn-rimmed spectacles
Will tell me that this rose is fleeting.
That its scent, its petals
Its rough thorny stem
Will wither
And sink into the silt of English gardens.

I choose not to hear such sentiments.

For I know that the this rose
Is every rose there has ever been
Every rose there will ever be.

Its fragrance that imbues me
Encompasses the innonce of childhood,
The wanderlust of the living and the finality of death.

My lungs are filled with the essence of the atmosphere
The ethos of a civilization,
Conducting the rhythmic palpations of my heart
The harmonious release and intake of breaths.

This is the song,
The cadence of the languor of life.
The song to which we utter our first indignant cries
And the song whose chords rest on white lips.

It is the rain on your windowpane
The laugh of your husband
The sorrow of loss
And the ecstacy of love.


I have lived most of my life
In a nation gone awry.

I remember the day it started
As perfectly as I remember my name.

Since a certain September morning
It all just seemed to fall apart,
Like grains of sand slipping through
The cracks between your fingers.

They all thought that war was the answer.
They said it was for freedom
But really, wasn’t it just
The crude reality of human greed?

For years
Revenge is what ran through the veins of the people
Until they realized
What they had become.

The one they had once praised
Became a palpable reminder
Of the growing monster
Known as “ America.”

And then,
He came ,
The massiah-like man
The gold-hearted savior;
The face of change.

He instilled hope into the hearts and minds
Of lamenting citizens
Speaking with conviction and earnestness
Telling us that
Change is possible.

I am speaking of course,
Of the future;
Barack Obama.


On any given Sunday morning
you will see them on the side of the road
With worn clothing and weathered hands
Dirt caked under their fingernails
Humming the song of the lost American Dream.

They dreamt of opportunity, they traveled over mountains
And rivers, some oceans.
They yearn for the solace of the homeland
The scent of sugarcane and the lenitive language
Of their childhoods.

They are the hands that toil
The sweat and broken promises
They are the nameless dead,
The melanin of the nation’s skin.

Every day they are spurned
Returning home with empty pockets
And perishing spirits.

And yet
They rise the next morning
Only seeing the resplendence of light
And an iota of hope.


It’s a city with a thousand faces.

I once saw a mother in a fur coat
And pearls whiter than her boy’s teeth.

She was preoccupied with
The voice on the other end of her telephone
Only occasionally eyeing a wan boy
Who the held the hand of a dark woman with cornrows.

He ran up to his mother, grasping her bejeweled hand
Which she promptly pulled away.

It was one of those pitiful moments
Where the exact second
A paper-thin heart tears
Is louder than a thousand drums.

Downtown is a different world.
Life is slower , it trickles like thick honey.
Life is a winged enigma,
They attempt to capture it in its earthly forms,
Behind the lens of a camera or the
Nib of a pen
The strum of a guitar
Or the strokes of a brush.

The waifish girl
With the chestnut hair
Angled over her forehead in an artful yet careless angle.

Her dress is simple, black and grey.
She sits in the park,
Knowing she owes the world nothing.

She doesn’t own much,
Her favorite possession is a tattered
Marble notebook,
Staining her hands with ink,
The liquid of her subconscious.

She can’t remember her social security number
But she will forever remember the way
The leaves look today,
The gold and red
And the perfect way the sun streams
Through them,
Creating an effulgent burst of splendor.

In Harlem they are singing to Jesus
Powerful robust voices wafting through the air
Setting souls on fire and making grandmothers
Dance again.

Times Square
paradox of garish atrocity and neon beauty;
Fulfilling the images of drawling visitors
and star-eyed thespians.

Street vendors
The Homeless
Mothers and Fathers
Husbands Wives

They are the quintessence
The ardor, the disdain, the
Beautiful and hideous face
That is New York.


Who am I?

I am the salt of your tears
The brine of the ocean
The dust on a butterfly’s wing

I am the voice of unwritten songs and forgotten reveries
I forget no one, for I am everyone.

The unrecorded deaths
The wayfaring children
The unrequited lovers
The wristcutters
The painted women
The battered mothers
The stillborn children
And the ones who die with untold stories sifting in their brains.

They sink into the netherworld of wraiths
Of the ghostly laughs of grown children

Yet they are the fabric of the nation
The fiber of spiderwebs
And they are a part of me.

I am a girl
A girl with an Irish name and Spanish skin
Who thinks every day is a poem
And weaves words together
Until they make some sense.

The author's comments:
This poem was written based on Walt Whitman's " Song of Myself," as an assignment in my AP English class after we read his work. I incorporated the same themes of nature, unity, and the representation of all people using my own style.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.