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Monday 26 May 2014

Robert Creeley: America


porchflag (Des Moines, Iowa): photo by greg (It'sGreg), 6 April 2014

America, you ode for reality!
Give back the people you took.

Let the sun shine again
on the four corners of the world

you thought of first but do not
own, or keep like a convenience.

People are your own word, you
invented that locus and term.

Here, you said and say, is
where we are. Give back

what we are, these people you made,
us, and nowhere but you to be.

Robert Creelety: America, from Pieces (1969)

Killer blob (Los Angeles): photo by anotherswede ON A BREAK, 7 July 2013

Surprised (Los Angeles): photo by anotherswede ON A BREAK, 31 January 2014


Unknown said...

great to wake up and read Creeley poem and stare at these gorgeous odd jarring photos. This blog ROCKS! thanks Tom and Angelica!

Lally said...

ditto to what Amy wrote, perfect post for this day Tom

TC said...


And greater still to not quite wake up from the odd jarring nightmare which is present tense reality in our totally rocked-out native land and have the general patriotic gloom transformed by hearing from esteemed YOU. Love from us, T

TC said...


Hadn't seen that due to the modem having hiccup fits, but swell to hear from you as well and indeed your word inspires me to now attempt to arise and hobble off unsteadily in the direction of the Lake Isle of Innisfree.

(We use some quaint euphemisms around here.)

Funny about the day.

In Memoriam -- that covers all too much any more... while yet not quite covering up enough, or as much as we might want it to.

On this day of every year, at about this hour, as a lad I would be getting up and lacing the strips of red, white and blue paper bunting through the spokes of my bike, so as to head off to line up in the throng along Washington Boulevard, awaiting the sunlit arrival of the parade.

manik sharma said...


Some account of the locus and the term ...Every poem read here again,somehow betters itself..Thank you Tom

Nin Andrews said...

Yes, perfect post.

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

The pure gold of a Creeley poem... perfect for today.

TC said...

Hey Manik, Nin and Red, let's have a parade!

Manik, there are different slices of that swatch of American Pie now emerging on different platters, so that the angle of approach to the central slice varies by the venue. I've linked to other excerpts over here. In one version of the text, we are struck by one point, in another by another. For me the most interesting bit is the reference, in passing, to the young man's growing awareness that in the youth culture of America, as well as in the culture of America in general, and the hyper-privileged celebrity culture of Southern California in particular, there is a perceptible "car hierarchy". So he talks his dad into upgrading him to the Beamer, which in the young man's mind, should have automatically qualified him as a bonafide PUA. But no such luck. The girls still look at him funny. He's still too strange, something just not right, he doesn't talk the talk (not a single "awesome" in his thesis-length text), no matter what he does he's not really American-millennial-Socal ENOUGH. Desolation. The rest is American History 666, that course nobody takes (seriously) any more.

Coincidentally, on this day one can make an informal estimate of the degree of patriotism in one's neighborhood by counting the number of flags in evidence.

As I am longer able to get far from this immediate location where I was run over and crippled by a careless American motorist, my estimate today was necessarily limited in "sample size" -- but I was relieved to see only two. One was somewhat cheap and flimsy, thus happily unimposing. The other, enormous and attention-grabbing, draped over the garage of our next door neighbour. His dad was run over and killed out front here by a careless American motorist.

Otherwise in the news, Landon Donovan is in a pout. Have a nice day.


"Here, you said and say, is
Where we are."

Thanks for this, how nice to think so "here" -- on the other side of the ridge. . .

TC said...

Thanks Steve. On a clear day like this I can almost see you over there beyond the mountain, on the other (better, outer) side.

Thinking of Stevens's "A clear day and no memories..."

But has there really ever been such a day, in this world?

Be the BQE said...

If it is "nowhere but you to be" for us, and it surely is, we can only appreciate it in all its splendid weirdness. Thanks for a beautiful Memorial Day post.

TC said...

Thanks David. I've got nowhere to be but here. When, that is, I'm not having fun being stuck in the exclusive No-Artists parking lot at the Wilcox Art Fair in Providence. Or lurking beneath the throng of happy promenaders on the sound-attenuating landfill mound in the ominous looming sweep-out shadow of The Uplands, trying to work up the nerve to ask the cute stuck-up one from the Concourse out for an ice-cream sundae.

What a day! Shall I make my video now??

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...


There's always room

Enough for one more
Rampant meme

To ruin the dream.

Mose23 said...

America, you ode for reality!

Creeley puts the substitution over plainly. He knows the nation's a work of imagination and that it matters nonetheless when set beside the flimsier fictions of ownership or precedence.

Give back

what we are, this people you made
us and nowhere but you to be.

Having just been subject to the anti immigration spiel of pretty much every major party in this country (European elections), Creeley's demand makes sense to me, feels full of true democratic energy, a bow of burning gold.

TC said...

Bob's poem, writ about the time of a trip to London for a reading, sees America with some detachment of distance. It was a time of social divisiveness in this country, with specific issues and clear dividing lines -- the Vietnam War, Civil Rights. It's hard for me to think of that situation in the context of our present situation. There has been so much so-called "progress". Great confusion and misunderstanding along with general malaise, apathy and cynicism -- a murky state, with everybody seeming to have identical wants and desires, reduced to units for global marketing purposes, everyone more or less "linked in" or "connected up", but only in virtual reality, as ghosts. The consensus aboard the ghostly lifeboat seems to be running against the embrace of any more starving huddled masses (unless it's temporary admission to do the laundry and the yard work).