Friday, April 01, 2005

for Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Conversation Poem (unathorized)
Robert Creeley—Chicago, December 29, 1999

Hey, let me
tell you

this: he
as the ultimate

good person, as
the art of lying,

by the throat and
throttle it.

The sawyer of
the mind seated

in the rocking chair,
so the neighbors might

see. Variously
culminating literature

of tacit
horror: the willing

suspension of

Taking the XXX Cantos
to war: just read

this and add
water, for which no

academies exist.
Sit with a book

and sound it, quote
get it right unquote.

You couldn’t
break it. It’s not

a product, much as
music is, the

activity of forgetting
the apparatus.

Meaning begins to,
as the ascent

beckons: the materials,
the house I was born.

To, to get to,
much, much too

particular: I rock
on the porch. There

isn’t room. A
mirror of someone

seeing themselves, where
lyric begins: Look Ma,

I’m dancing! At
85, what the

hell? When the whole shift
is so simple: Socrates

asking what you mean.
If you haven’t been

hit by a club, how
can you know? Translating

into standard English: why
one must be the

subject of a sentence.
Works on paper,

painters, especially
what’s seen.

It’s a vocab-
ulary, a place,

place of seeing the
world, a different

pattern, a friend of
a few years.

Apart from other physical
human persons: like

cluttering, like chickens.
The salt pond,

so heavily
salted you can walk

on it. I never
realized how I smell.

A kind of civilization
vs. barbarism, this

adversarial relation, the
possibility of class,

again back to that
time in the 40s: then there were those

that were not. Why this
person of that place, the

phony energy? I felt
a great and social

father, mine dead when
I was 4, 8 miles from

Concord—Jude the
Obscure, an eye

for a college.
In this country

I heard a woman
talking about, about

government, a super-
market, a sense of

completion and production.
What else are they

going to do?
I wanted a poetry

like the soapbox derby:
go to your own

dictionary. All American
poetry is homemade.

What’s, what’s, what’s
to happen? The Cantos

had sold a modest
number of copies.

She writes poetry
for every occasion.

She has a
situation. The nearest

thing would be
a dilemma.

I began by reading
the door, the measure

of four. Quoting
some other poet

gets you started.

This poem originally appeared in Mirage #4/Period(ical) #99.

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