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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Robert Creeley: The Times



East Wind over Weehawken: Edward Hopper, 1934 (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts)

If they had something
to worry about these

people wouldn't sit there
thinking about what

doesn't even exist they
would take each day as it
comes and thank their
lucky stars they had

enough to eat it says here
it reflects the hopeless
times make what isn't
the case all that is.

Robert Creeley: The Times, from Places (1990)


Susan Kay Anderson said...

We are much like plants
and everything else
growing on the planet
food, water, air

it takes a pirate
to tell us this

with his one good eye
truth poem

walks the plank
into the vast ocean
what is swirling
as we remember

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Hopeless times
empty times
emptying stars planets
suns there
skinned moon
out on the lawn
in the grass
the others can see
in the now shadow
of the factory

Jonathan Chant said...

Hopper's paintings are great for sparking narratives. You can just sense all of the life brooding behing those windows.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Creeley they said
a sound like crackers
PB & J nutritious
more river
than anything
the pleasing
sand bars
desert mountains
gerunds dare this
young or older.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Working America does not mind
living on beans and rice
except for the idea
of salsa
of guac
sour cream
lots of chips
dream it true
for a few more
dollars tomorrow.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Interesting just to read Calvin Johnson's familiar and oddly comforting writing--hilarious and touching, even (O.K. I am from Eugene/Sutherlin/Nonpareil after all is said and done and have read a lot of his writing passed along by Robert Christie and muse-at-large, Denise Hall) an inspiring if not aporia/conundrum:

TC said...

"Hopper's paintings are great for sparking narratives. You can just sense all of the life brooding behind those windows."

That painting always makes me shudder a bit. I want to turn down the brim of my fedora and huddle inside my woolen overcoat. And I don't even have a fedora, nor a woolen overcoat. Indeed I've been simply lying abed for what begins to feel like the better part of forever trying to persuade the signals from the violated temporal lobe to stop sending images to fill out the narrative implied in that painting. Then is now. Something tells me Hopper had a large hole in his soul. All the better for the aeration I suppose.

Speaking of narratives, for some time now I've been working on one to fit this poem. Each time round, it changes a bit. This time (perhaps due to Susan's one-eyed pirate allusion) the voice of the first eight and a half lines is that of the malevolent captain, and what is said in the remaining lines is a message translated from the skull and crossbones decorating the mutinous flag.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Tom, you are a poet plus.

Wooden Boy said...

The world is full of such pirate voices now. The banker's business: "make what isn't/ the case all that is.

I like how this last line reads like the first line of the Tractatus shrunk and reshuffled.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Wooden Boy,
Do you mean that the first and last lines wipe out all the rest but there is something that exists, anyway, because of the wishing or something like that in "lucky stars" or such? Just the fact that we see these words and not other words?
Is this some sort of morse code for existing?



". . .take each day as it
comes. . ."

". . .make what isn't
the case all that is"


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, motion of green leaves on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

present as subject is there
in itself, being past

can be “geometrical,” which
form can be, after it

grey white of fog reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

Wooden Boy said...


That wasn't what I was thinking but it's a rich line to follow. I think I'll be turning over the lines "thinking about what/doesn't even exist" for a while. Spoken in another voice (the "malevolent captain", for example), what is meant by existing or not existing here? It gives me the eebie jeebies.

"The world is all that is the case" set against "make what isn't/ the case all that is". From quiet attention to spun illusion.

Creeley doesn't say much about what anyone is wishing for; the "meagre food" and "rancid wine" is forever sprinkled with lucky stars. And they make sure they get it in print too.

To look hard from "the now shadow/ of the factory" - that's one way of seeing through their seeming, star-studded "all that is" to the living picture.

TC said...

It's hard not to see this poem as grimly prescient in its envisioning of a state of social dissociation then (1990) not yet completely anticipated -- and as such recalling perhaps for the poet some memories of the 1930s, while also casting forward beyond the lifespan of the poet to the sort of times we have now.