If I Were Writing Thisby Robert Creeley
If I were writing this was the last book of poems completed by Robert Creeley and/i>/b>
"Robert Creeley has created a noble life body of poetry that extends the work of predecessors Pound, Williams, Zukofsky, and Olson and that provides like them a method for his successors in exploring our new American poetic consciousness."Allen Ginsberg
If I were writing this was the last book of poems completed by Robert Creeley and published during his lifetime (New Directions, 2003). The words that he wrote to describe this book are oddly prophetic: "Age brings experience, not wisdom; age makes time actualeach day anotheruntil there is no more. These poems have been my company, my solace, my feelings, my heart. When they cannot speak it will all be silence." Though Creeley died in 2005, his poems are not silentthey vibrantly continue to embrace life while acknowledging, with no self-pity, the inevitability of death. The message (as he always ended his letters) is "Onward!"
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If I were writing this
By ROBERT CREELEY
A NEW DIRECTIONS BOOKCopyright © 2003 Robert Creeley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE WAY
Somewhere in all the time that's passed was a thing in mind became the evidence, the pleasure even in fact of being lost so quickly, simply that what it was could never last.
Only knowing was measure of what one could make hold together for that moment's recognition, or else the world washed over like a flood of meager useless truths, of hostile incoherence.
Too late to know that knowing was its own reward and that wisdom had at best a transient credit. Whatever one did or didn't do was what one could. Better at last believe than think to question?
There wasn't choice if one had seen the light, not of belief but of that soft, blue-glowing fusion seemed to appear or disappear with thought, a minute magnesium flash, a firefly's illusion.
Best wonder at mind and let that flickering ambience of wondering be the determining way you follow, which leads itself from day to day into tomorrow, finds all it ever finds is there by chance.
THE AMERICAN DREAM
Edges and disjuncts, shattered, bitter planes, a wedge of disconsolate memories to anchor fame, fears of the past, a future still to blame-
Multiple heavens, hells, nothing is straight. You earn your money, then you wait for so-called life to see that you get paid.
Tilt! Again it's all gone wrong. This is a heartless, hopeless song. This is an empty, useless song.
Marilyn's was Norma Jean. Things are not always what they seem. Skin she lived back of like some screen kept her wonder in common view, said what she did, you could too, loved by many, touched by few. She married heroes of all kinds but no one seemed to know her mind, none the secret key could find. Scared kid, Norma Jean? Are things really what they seem? What is it that beauty means?
Balling the Jack Down the Track Won't Be Back Too Late, Jack
See the rush of light- Time's flight, out of sight. Feel the years like tears- the days gone away.
(LEMONS) PEAR APPEARS
If it's there, it's something- And when you see it, Not just your eyes know it. It's yourself, like they say, you bring.
These words, these seemingly rounded Forms-looks like a pear? Is yellow? Where's that to be found- In some abounding meadow?
Like likes itself, sees similarities Everywhere it goes. But what that means, Nobody knows.
"Dried roses ..." Were these from some walk All those years ago? Were you the one Was with me? Did we talk? Who else had come along? Memory can stand upright Like an ordered row of stiff stems, Dead echo of flowering heads, Roses once white, pink and red.
Back of them the blackness, Backdrop for all our lives, The wonders we thought to remember Still life, still life.
DRAWN & QUARTERED
(1) Speed is what's needed. Move quick before depleted of more than a battered leg will prove. Go for it-as in love.
(2) Hold still, lion! I am trying to paint you while there's time to.
(3) We have common sense and common bond. That's enough to get along.
(4) Have you known each other long? Long before you were born! Have you both been happy in marriage? I think it's proven a commodious carriage.
(5) Are they together? Grandmother and granddaughter? Is there some fact of pain in their waiting?
(6) Am I only material for you to feel? Is that all you see when you look at me?
(7) Image of self at earlier age- when thoughts had gone inward, and life became an emptying page- myself moving toward nothing.
(8) Why not tell what you've kept a secret not wait for it to leap out?
(9) Dear cat, I see you and will attend and feed you now as then.
(10) Here I sit meal on lap come to eat just like that!
(11) There's someone behind black eye covers, smothered.
(12) Closes, as an echo- The shoulder, mouth, rounded head-Two more, to say each wanted it that way?
(13) We sat like this the night we went away- just us two, in this same place, and the boat on the ocean blue.
(14) For years I'd thought such bliss as this could not be bought. While I waited, my desire itself abated.
(15) Something hot to drink. God knows what's in it. Waking or sleeping in no one's keeping.
(16) You displaced me by your singing. My ears were ringing! My fingers were glue as each note rang true.
(17) "Man, this stuff is rough!" "What would you pay to make it go way?"
(18) Still asleep or else dead. Take him to bed. Hell wake up in the morning and I'll be gone.
(19) Angel holding up the roof top- else would fall and kill us all!
(20) One word
I heard you said
(21) Mabel had come all the way to town to stand as you see her and jump up and down.
(22) Mine it was and mine it will be-
No because and never a maybe!
Mine it was and mine it will be ...
(23) My only horse is dead, who was my whole farmstead, its entire provenance and agent. Life has no further occasion.
(24) Beyond, I hope, desire- free of the entangling fire- I lay me down to sleep. Read it and weep!
(25) "Too deep for words"- My weary hand was poised Above the paper's blank- too white for thoughts, recalcitrant for tears.
(26) What a complicated argument, whether wrong or right! Where's the fun in being simply one?
(27) He says the enemy's won- and we can go home! The drum beats in the empty street.
(28) Somewhere here it said that life is like a river- but look as hard as I can, I never find it again-or anything else instead.
(29) And have you read my verses clear and may I now call you my dear?
(30) All these pages to turn, all the bridges to burn.
(31) What I do Is my own business. No use looking. You'll see nothing.
(32) If music be enough for you lend me ears so I can hear too.
(33) Let me try that too and see if I sound like you- or is it your body's song pulls things along?
(34) When you are done we can play! Outside the day waits until the sun goes down.
(35) Oh little one, what are you eating? Bottle emptied beside you, nought left but your thumb?
(36) It was still in front of them but soon began to be gone. Look, said one, now it's going! Still, they thought, it will come again.
(37) Statue? Hermione's- A Winter's Tale- in the garden fixed sense of beauty's evident patience.
(38) Maybe this uniform's better, Maybe this time I'll be the winner. Maybe I'll shoot straighter. Maybe they'll get dead first.
(39) From the wars I've come, following the drum, cannon's bombast, the military brass asses.
(40) Love's the other in the tunnel- looks back down the track.
(41) Mother of her country, keeping the dullards at bay, forcing the boys to pay, taking the fences away,
(42) It's two o'clock but we can't stop! We couldn't then when we drank the gin.
(43) If I had a cent you'd have it. But I don't. If I knew what to do, I'd tell you.
Excerpted from If I were writing this by ROBERT CREELEY Copyright © 2003 by Robert Creeley
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Robert Creeley (1926-2005) was one of America's most acclaimed and respected poets. Receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2000 as well as a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 simply confirmed the words of the citation for his 1999 Bollingen Prize in Poetry: "As editor, publisher, traveler, teacher, writer; as mind-worker Robert Creeley has been a seminal figure of the second half of the 20th century."
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Robert Creeley's Return Quiet as is proper for such places The street, subdued, half-snow, half-rain, Endless, but ending in the darkened doors. Inside, they who will be there always, Quiet as is proper for such people-- Enough for now to be here, and To know my door is one of these. It was on a placard on the A. Can't get it out of my head.