Thursday, May 21, 2015

Of Right Of Wrong Of Up Of Down Of Who Of How Of When Of One Of Then Of If Of In Of Out Of Feel Of Friend Of It Of Now. or: Born Eighty-Nine Years Ago Today


He wants to be
a brutal old man,
an aggressive old man,
as dull, as brutal
as the emptiness around him,

He doesn’t want compromise,   
nor to be ever nice
to anyone. Just mean,
and final in his brutal,
his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,   
the gentle, the “oh,
let’s hold hands together”
and it was awful,
dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on
his own dwindling legs.   
His arms, his skin,   
shrink daily. And
he loves, but hates equally.

Creeley interviewed. Six more poems below the fold


inside my head

Inside my head a common room,   
a common place, a common tune,
a common wealth, a common doom

inside my head. I close my eyes.   
The horses run. Vast are the skies,
and blue my passing thoughts’ surprise

inside my head. What is this space   
here found to be, what is this place
if only me? Inside my head, whose face?

the tools

First there, it proves to be still here.   
Distant as seen, it comes then to be near.   
I found it here and there unclear.

What if my hand had only been   
extension of an outside reaching in
to work with common means to change me then?

All things are matter, yet these seem   
caught in the impatience of a dream,   
locked in the awkwardness they mean.

the swan

Peculiar that swan should mean a sound?
I’d thought of gods and power, and wounds.
But here in the curious quiet this one has settled down.

All day the barking dogs were kept at bay.   
Better than dogs, a single swan, they say,   
will keep all such malignant force away

and so preserve a calm, make pond a swelling lake—
sound through the silent grove a shattering spate   
of resonances, jarring the mind awake.

the rose

Into one’s self come in again,
here as if ever now to once again begin
with beauty’s old, old problem never-ending—

Go, lovely rose ... So was that story told
in some extraordinary place then, once upon a time so old   
it seems an echo now as it again unfolds.

I point to me to look out at the world.
I see the white, white petals of this rose unfold.   
I know such beauty in the world grows cold.

the skull

“Come closer. Now there is nothing left   
either inside or out to gainsay death,”   
the skull that keeps its secrets saith.

The ways one went, the forms that were   
empty as wind and yet they stirred
the heart to its passion, all is passed over.

Lighten the load. Close the eyes.   
Let the mind loosen, the body die,   
the bird fly off to the opening sky.

the star

Such space it comes again to be,   
a room of such vast possibility,   
a depth so great, a way so free.

Life and its person, thinking to find
a company wherewith to keep the time   
a peaceful passage, a constant rhyme,

stumble perforce, must lose their way,   
know that they go too far to stay   
stars in the sky, children at play.


Locate I

love you some-
where in

teeth and   
eyes, bite   
it but

take care not   
to hurt, you   
want so

much so   
little. Words   
say everything.


love you

then what   
is emptiness   
for. To

fill, fill.
I heard words   
and words full

of holes   
aching. Speech   
is a mouth.


Robert Creeley


Down the road Up the hill Into the house
Over the wall Under the bed After the fact
By the way Out of the woods Behind the times
In front of the door Between the lines Along the path


In the way it was in the street   

it was in the back it was
in the house it was in the room
it was in the dark it was

fat fate

Be at That this
Come as If when   
Stay or Soon then   
Ever happen It will


Particular pleasures weather measures or   
Dimestore delights faced with such sights.


Outstretched innocence   
Implacable distance
Lend me a hand
See if it reaches


Of right Of wrong Of up Of down   
Of who Of how Of when Of one   
Of then Of if Of in Of out
Of feel Of friend Of it Of now


Now the inevitable   
As in tales of woe   
The inexorable toll   
It takes, it takes.


Head on backwards   
Face front neck’s
Pivot bunched flesh   
Drops jowled brunch.


Little bit patted pulled   
Stretched set let cool.


Whenas To for
If where From in
Past place Stated want   
Gain granted Planned or

have a heart

Have heart Find head   
Feel pattern Be wed   
Smell water See sand   
Oh boy Ain’t life grand

oh oh

Now and then   
Here and there   
On and on


Season’s upon us   
Weather alarms us   
Snow riot peace   
Leaves struck fist.


Let little Linda allow litigation
Foster faith’s fantasy famously
And answer all apt allegations
Handmake Harold’s homework handsomely


Passion’s particulars   
Steamy hands
Unwashed warmth   
One night stands

west acton summer

Cat’s rats, Mother’s brother   
Vacation’s patience, loud clouds   
Fields far, seize trees
School’s rules, friends tend   
Lawn’s form, barn’s beams   
Hay’s daze, swallows follow   
Sun’s sunk, moon mends   
Echo’s ending, begin again


“Far be it from Harry to alter the sense of drama inherent in the almighty tuxedo ...”

“Far be it from Harry”   
Sit next to Mary,
See how the Other   
Follows your Mother


Pat’s place
Pattern’s face   
Aberrant fact   
Changes that


Four’s forms
Back and forth
Feel way Hindside
Paper route Final chute


Indefatigably alert when hit still hurt.   
Whenever he significantly alters he falters.   
Wondrous weather murmured mother.   
Unforgettable twist in all such synthesis.   
Impeccably particular you always were.   
Laboriously enfeebled he still loved people.


Driving to the expected   
Place in mind in
Place of mind in
Driving to the expected


You have to reach   
Out more it’s
Farther away from   
You it’s here


Exoneration’s face
Echoed distaste
Privileged repetition   
Makeshift’s decision—


Now and then
Behind time’s
Emptied scene and   
Memory’s mistakes—


You are here   
And there too   
Being but one   
Of you—


All that’s left of coherence.

echo again

Statement keep talking
Train round bend over river into distance


Everything’s before you   
were here.

summer ’38

Nubble’s Light a sort   
of bump I thought—
a round insistent
small place

not like this—
it was a bluff,   
tip on the edge   
of the sea.


Lift up so you’re   
Floating out
Of your skin at
The edge but
Mostly up seeming   
Free of the ground.


Think of the
Dance you could do   
One legged man
Two legged woman.


Hard to be unaddressed—
Empty to reflection—
Take the road east—
Be where it is.


Sunrise always first—
That light—is it
Round the earth—what   
Simple mindedness.


It is
You are


Out there   
In here   
Now it is   
Was also


Up where   
It will be   
And down   


No one   
To it   


I cannot
move backward   
or forward.
I am caught

in the time
as measure.
What we think   
of we think of—

of no other reason   
we think than
just to think—
each for himself.


Sixty-two, sixty-three, I most remember   
As time W. C. Williams dies and we are   
Back from a hard two years in Guatemala   
Where the meager provision of being   
Schoolmaster for the kids of the patrones
Of two coffee plantations has managed   
Neither a life nor money. Leslie dies in   
Horror of bank giving way as she and her   
Sister and their friends tunnel in to make   
A cubby. We live in an old cement brick   
Farmhouse already inside the city limits   
Of Albuquerque. Or that has all really   
Happened and we go to Vancouver where,   
Thanks to friends Warren and Ellen Tallman,   
I get a job teaching at the University of British   
Columbia. It’s all a curious dream, a rush   
To get out of the country before the sad   
Invasion of the Bay of Pigs, that bleak use   
Of power. One of my British colleagues   
Has converted the assets of himself and   
His wife to gold bullion and keeps the   
Ingots in a sturdy suitcase pushed under   
Their bed. I love the young, at least I   
Think I do, in their freshness, their attempt   
To find ways into Canada from the western   
Reaches. Otherwise the local country seems   
Like a faded Edwardian sitcom. A stunned   
Stoned woman runs one Saturday night up   
And down the floors of the Hydro Electric   
Building on Pender with the RCMP in hot
Pursuit where otherwise we stood in long   
Patient lines, extending often several blocks   
Up the street. We were waiting to get our   
Hands stamped and to be given a 12 pack   
Of Molson’s. I think, I dream, I write the   
Final few chapters of The Island, the despairs   
Gathering at the end. I read Richard Brautigan’s   
Trout Fishing In America but am too uptight   
To enjoy his quiet, bright wit. Then that   
Summer there is the great Vancouver Poetry   
Festival, Allen comes back from India, Olson   
From Gloucester, beloved Robert Duncan   
From Stinson Beach. Denise reads “Hypocrite   
Women” to the Burnaby ladies and Gary Snyder,   
Philip Whalen, and Margaret Avison are there   
Too along with a veritable host of the young.   
Then it’s autumn again. I’ve quit my job   
And we head back to Albuquerque   
And I teach again at the university, and   
Sometime just about then I must have   
Seen myself as others see or saw me,   
Even like in a mirror, but could not quite   
Accept either their reassuring friendship   
Or their equally locating anger. Selfish,   
Empty, I kept at it. Thirty-eight years later   
I seem to myself still much the same,   
Even if I am happier, I think, and older.


Go out into brightened   
space out there the fainter   
yellowish place it
makes for eye to enter out   
to greyed penumbra all the   
way to thoughtful searching   
sight of all beyond that
solid red both brick and seeming   
metal roof or higher black   
beyond the genial slope I   
look at daily house top on   
my own way up to heaven.


Same roof, light’s gone   
down back of it, behind   
the crying end of day, “I   
need something to do,” it’s   
been again those other   
things, what’s out there,   
sodden edge of sea’s   
bay, city’s graveyard, park   
deserted, flattened aspect,   
leaves gone colored fall   
to sidewalk, street, the end   
of all these days but   
still this regal light.


Trees stripped, rather shed
of leaves, the black solid trunks up
to fibrous mesh of smaller   
branches, it is weather’s window,   
weather’s particular echo, here   
as if this place had been once,   
now vacant, a door that had had   
hinges swung in air’s peculiar   
emptiness, greyed, slumped elsewhere,   
asphalt blank of sidewalks, line of   
linearly absolute black metal fence.


Old sky freshened with cloud bulk   
slides over frame of window the   
shadings of softened greys a light   
of air up out of this dense high   
structured enclosure of buildings   
top or pushed up flat of bricked roof   
frame I love I love the safety of   
small world this door frame back   
of me the panes of simple glass yet   
airy up sweep of birch trees sit in   
flat below all designation declaration   
here as clouds move so simply away.


Windows now lit close out the   
upper dark the night’s a face   
three eyes far fainter than   
the day all faced with light   
inside the room makes eye re-
flective see the common world   
as one again no outside coming   
in no more than walls and post-
card pictures place faces across   
that cautious dark the tree no   
longer seen more than black edge   
close branches somehow still between.


He was at the edge of this
reflective echo the words blown   
back in air a bubble of suddenly   
apparent person who walked to
sit down by the familiar brook and   
thought about his fading life
all “fading life” in tremulous airy   
perspect saw it hover in the surface   
of that moving darkness at the edge   
of sun’s passing water’s sudden depth   
his own hands’ knotted surface the   
sounding in himself of some other.


One forty five afternoon red   
car parked left hand side   
of street no distinguishing   
feature still wet day a bicycle   
across the way a green door-
way with arched upper window   
a backyard edge of back wall
to enclosed alley low down small   
windows and two other cars green   
and blue parked too and miles   
and more miles still to go.


This early still sunless morning when a chair’s   
creak translates to cat’s cry a blackness still
out the window might be apparent night when the
house still sleeping behind me seems a bag of   
immense empty silence and I feel the children   
still breathing still shifting their dreams an   
enigma will soon arrive here and the loved one   
centers all in her heavy sleeping arm out the   
leg pushed down bedclothes this body unseen un-
known placed out there in night I can feel all   
about me still sitting in this small spare pool of   
light watching the letters the words try to speak.


Classic emptiness it
sits out there edge of   
hierarchic roof top it
marks with acid fine edge   
of apparent difference it   
is there here here that
sky so up and out and where   
it wants to be no birds no   
other thing can for a   
moment distract it be   
beyond its simple space.

1 comment:

  1. while i was reading 'gnomic voices', a song by talking heads - 'and she was' - began to play in the radio of my imagination