Bonus WCW: “Danse Russe,” posted and annotated at Rap Genius.
In this poem, Dr. Williams, respectable obstetrician, husband, father, middle-aged citizen, dances butt-naked in front of a mirror. In doing so, he summons his Whitmanian side, his barbaric inner poet. Recall that Walt Whitman used to write things like:
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while
they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
Williams is no less self-admiring: “Who shall say I am not / the happy genius of my household?” Later in American literature, Tim Allen would write a book called Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man. Presumably Allen would argue that this goes double for dancing naked men with delusions of grandeur—and yet Williams compels us to stand by, observe, even as he shuts the door to the rest of his household. Call it “private exhibitionism.” Call it shameless, call it strange. Whatever it is, it makes him happy.