A Day Reading Robert Creeley

by | Jul 6, 2013 | Reading




I waited too long.
I waited for you forever and ever:

the changing unchanging restlessness
of the signs they didn’t put up

or down; the boxes of oranges,
rat poisons, barns, a sled with no runners,

snow, refreshments, pineapples;
the odor of burnt wood, cigarettes

neither one of us should smoke,
but do –

I waited for you.




They are taking all my letters, and they
put them into a fire.

I see the flames, etc.
But do not care, etc.

They burn everything I have, or what little
I have. I don’t care, etc.

The poem supreme, addressed to
emptiness – this is the courage

necessary. This is something
quite different.




I dreamt her sensual proportions
had suffered sea-change,

that she was a porpoise, a
sea-beast rising lucid from the mist.

The sound of waves killed speech
but there were gestures –

of my own, it was to call her closer,
of hers, she snorted and filled her lungs with water,

then sank, to the bottom,
and looking down, clear it was, like crystal,

there I saw her.




Had you the eyes of a goat,
they would be almond, half-green, half-

yellow, an almond
shape to them. Were you

less as you are, cat-like, a brush
head, sad, sad, un-





The quieter the people are
the slower the time passes

until there is a solitary man
sitting in the figure of silence.

Then scream at him,
come here you idiot it’s going to go off.

A face that is no face
but the features, of a face, pasted

on a face until that face
is faceless, answers by

a being nothing there
where there was a man.




Miles back
in the wake,
days faded –

nights sleep seemed
falling down
into some deadness –

killing it,
thinking dullness,
thinking body

was dying.
you changed it.




Snow lifts it
by slowing

the movement expected,
makes walking

slower, harder,
makes face ache,

eyes blur, hands fumble,
makes the day explicit,

the night quiet,
the outside more so

and the inside glow
with warmth, with people

if you’re lucky, if
world’s good to you,

won’t so simply
kill you, freeze you.




Oh like a bird
falls down

out of air,
oh like a disparate

small snowflake
melts momently.




all from Robert Creeley’s Selected Poems, 1945-2005, edited by Benjamin Friedlander (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008)




NOTE: The format of line 3 of “The Dishonest Mailmen” is inaccurate.