the hat is the only garment

leonhat

the hat is the only garment
we remove as a sign of respect
doff your chapeau in Denny’s
and people think, How polite!
doff your trousers at the IHOP
and you are going to bare-legged jail

the hat is the only garment
we can hold and have strangers give us money
passing the hat is as american
as eating waffles in your britches—
pull off your sock and hold it out
and you’ll be lucky to fetch a single farthing

the hat is the only garment
that can hold a fantabulous, dangerous secret
people whisper the dishiest dirt
and say keep this under your hat
but you tell some lady you have something juicy
and she has to keep it under her knickers…

seriously, fool, get yourself a hat

—Don Whittington

keatonhat

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In Dry Dock

drydock

More worthy is my ship than I deserve
yet I have left her here, high and dry
and far from ocean’s trough and crest, where nerve
is not required or called; a place where I
can make believe that I am man enough
to meet her on her own terms on the sea,
to laugh at winds, defy scaled Triton’s bluff,
to play her sails against the gale’s adversity.
Instead I leave her shackled, high and dry
to fend against the grackles and the terns,
and she, who trusted me, can only cry
in anger at her traitor heart which yearns.
And I? I would be timid of her free
for fear her sheets would carry beyond me.

—Don Whittington

sailorscrabs

i want to experience immortality

bell

i want to experience immortality
by understanding now
now does not begin or end
it simply is, eternal—
with a piece of wood
i trace a ring around
the lip of a seven-metal bell
and listen to the song of infinity
forever
just as the creator of all things
is caught up in a frame
of Richard Diamond, Detective
pondering the legs
of Sam

—Don Whittington

MTM legs

people who imagine catastrophe

catastrophe

people who imagine catastrophe
like yellowstone going blooey
or the oceans flooding
always
see themselves surviving
always
we are mostly afflicted
with a Noahnic world view
everything happens because god
is giving us some one-on-one time
he’s building our character
he’s making us stronger
he’s teaching us
and those millions of the faceless
soulless inhuman foreign poor and dead
are extras in the movie
we call “god and i go to white castle”
we are all so special
we are all so amazingly brave
i don’t know, man
people make fun of the guy
who sits in the meeting and says
“holy cow, we’re all gonna die”
not me
i love that guy
we should create
a holy-cow-we’re-all-gonna-die bureau
a cabinet level position
to keep everybody’s head in the game
to remind the powerful and clever people
that even an ark needs some looking after
lest it sink and leave nothing
but a teasing ripple
then gone

—Don Whittington

The_ocean

More Bond Than You Imagined

You know the plan: tonight, midnight, the kremlin! First, let me get this fool to sleep.

You know the plan: tonight, midnight, the kremlin! First, let me get this fool to sleep.

i am
fond
of sharing
urgent
secret
messages
with the infants
of strangers—
the infants
and i
are
aware
you do not know
what we mean—
we are counting on it

—Don Whittington

Odd Job, take him out and finish him.

Odd Job, take him out and finish him.

‘Twas just before Christmas

 

august-macke-large-window-19122‘Twas just before Christmas
and all through the store
the customers jostled
and rummaged for more—
I need a new gift
that’s just right for my dad
so he won’t take his pain
out on me when he’s sad—
something less than a hundred
for Mom’s life to begin
something less than a ten
to absolve me of sin—
so my brother won’t hate me
so my sister won’t lie
so my children won’t leave
so my puppy won’t die
the gift that will heal
with a bargain price tag—
I’m the winner of Christmas
and I got a free bag

—Don Whittington

selfridges_0