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
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?
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
love you some-
take care not
to hurt, you
I heard words
and words full
is a mouth.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Now and then
Emptied scene and
You are here
And there too
Being but one
All that’s left of coherence.
Statement keep talking
Train round bend over river into distance
Everything’s before you
Nubble’s Light a sort
of bump I thought—
a round insistent
not like this—
it was a bluff,
tip on the edge
of the sea.
Lift up so you’re
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
Now it is
It will be
I am caught
in the time
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.