Walt Whitman’s Wolves by Peter Arvan Manos

Of all humans, poets have always been the most delicious.

Since the beginning, around your fires, we’ve been watching you. We’ve been hiding right outside your circles. Hungry. Listening. Taking in your carnal cauldrons full of words.

Walt Whitman summoned us with his carnal cauldron’s barbaric yawp in “Song of Myself.”

Whitman made his poems part of his body through his voice and then he completely emptied himself into his carnal cauldron. He told you the truth when he was through: “This is no book;” he said, “Who touches this, touches a man.

We lick his follicles and chomp and gobble the juicy sinewy meat of his poems and the sweet fat stuck to his bones.

He was right—we’ve found no sweeter fat, either.

But poets’ intestines are the best! The ones we love the most are the most rotten and noxious ones. We consume them voraciously.

We grovel in our garden of darkness and fill it with our howls, guarding the organs before us: hearts and livers and bowels. Through the technique you humans invented, we will now read poets’ intestines.

In your parlance, “anthropomancy” was your ancient art of seeing into the future by reading a human being’s intestines. Did you know that your ancestors did this?

Did you know that the fortune tellers would even do their reading when the person whose intestines they’d just splattered against a flat rock was still alive? The main reason you invented the reading of coffee grounds and tea leaves was that intestines were so messy.

Your poets’ guts have told us this: You are more evil than you know, you humans! You will likely not survive, you humans! You may destroy all life on this planet!

You humans make many homages to peace, but you are unnatural and think backwards. Your aspirations for love are held in reverse, and your love is often just an afterthought.

You advertise a false afterlife, when you do not do enough in this life, for the life that will come after you are gone.

You suffer from fugitive dualism, thinking life is two things when it is one and one thing when it is two. You have no clue why we howl at the moon.

We saw our cousins, the slaves you enslaved–the four-leggeds you call dogs. Our sad cousins! Some of them now actually like their leashes. Like your dogs, your precious distinctions and divisions bind you like a noose around your neck in your attachment or resistance to them.

The moon rises and sets for us. We love our pack and it is good enough for us. Now even your own pack is not good enough for you.

We howl at the moon to find each other, and now we howl for our enslaved cousins. We wolves have four cousins: Dogs, coyotes, jackals and dingoes. Your near-two legged relatives in the trees–the other hominids–also have cousins, all three of them: The orangutans and gorillas and chimpanzees. You humans are the only hominid genus without any cousins.

We know why your species is alone in its genus, homo sapiens: You bludgeoned your cousins! You killed them! Why did you deserve to live but not them? Do you think Earth and its plants and animals are here just to be useful for you? Just for you to fill your carnal cauldrons with poems about them?

Whitman said “There shall be love between the poet and the man of demonstrable science.” Poetry made human beings human beings. But you must use poetry and science, in beauty and in truth, to save us rather than destroy us.

Don’t forget we will still be watching you. We’ll be hiding right outside your circles. Hungry. Listening. Taking in your carnal cauldrons full of words.

To you humans using beauty and truth! Aooo!

Eat your own evil, or it may kill us all! Aooo, aooo!

Eat the evil in you, or we will eat you! Aooo, aooo! Aoooooooooo!!!


Peter Arvan Manos’ poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, and in The New York Times. Peter’s free verse is part of his collection in progress called The Real Dirt, and his more structured poems are part of his collection called Myriad.

2 thoughts on “Walt Whitman’s Wolves by Peter Arvan Manos

  1. There are so many reasons I really enjoy this piece. just the phrase “carnal cauldron full of words” makes it worthwhile. Sinister, yet somehow I find it amusing.


  2. Peter says:

    Thanks! The process of writing a persona poem for the first time really drew me in, cauldron and all! Glad you enjoyed it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: