Robert Creeley

1926-2005 / Arlington, Massachusetts

Clemente's Images


Sleeping birds, lead me,
soft birds, be me

inside this black room,
back of the white moon.

In the dark night
sight frightens me.

Who is it nuzzles there
with furred, round headed stare?

Who, perched on the skin,
body's float, is holding on?

What other one stares still,
plays still, on and on?

Stand upright, prehensile,
squat, determined,

small guardians of the painful
outside coming in --

in stuck in vials with needles,
bleeding life in, particular, heedless.

Matrix of world
upon a turtle's broad back,

carried on like that,
eggs as pearls,

flesh and blood and bone
all borne along.

I'll tell you what you want,
to say a word,

to know the letters in yourself,
a skin falls off,

a big eared head appears,
an eye and mouth.

Under watery here,
under breath, under duress,

understand a pain
has threaded a needle with a little man --

gone fishing.
And fish appear.

If small were big,
if then were now,

if here were there,
if find were found,

if mind were all there was,
would the animals still save us?

A head was put
upon the shelf got took
by animal's hand and stuck
upon a vacant corpse

who, blurred, could nonetheless
not ever be the quietly standing bird it watched.

Not lost,
not better or worse,

much must of necessity depend on resources,
the pipes and bags brought with us

inside, all the sacks
and how and to what they are or were attached.

Everybody's child
walks the same winding road,

laughs and cries, dies.
That's "everybody's child,"

the one who's in between
the others who have come and gone.

Turn as one will, the sky will always be
far up above the place he thinks to dream as earth.

There float the heavenly
archaic persons of primordial birth,

held in the scan of ancient serpent's tooth,
locked in the mind as when it first began.

Inside I am the other of a self,
who feels a presence always close at hand,

one side or the other, knows another one
unlocks the door and quickly enters in.

Either as or, we live a common person.
Two is still one. It cannot live apart.

Oh, weep for me --
all from whom life has stolen

hopes of a happiness stored
in gold's ubiquitous pattern,

in tinkle of commodious, enduring money,
else the bee's industry in hives of golden honey.

He is safely put
in a container, head to foot,

and there, on his upper part, wears still
remnants of a life he lived at will --

but, lower down, he probes at that doubled sack
holds all his random virtues in a mindless fact.

The forms wait, swan,
elephant, crab, rabbit, horse, monkey, cow,

squirrel and crocodile. From the one
sits in empty consciousness, all seemingly has come

and now it goes, to regather,
to tell another story to its patient mother.

Reflection reforms, each man's a life,
makes its stumbling way from mother to wife --

cast as a gesture from ignorant flesh,
here writes in fumbling words to touch,

say, how can I be,
when she is all that was ever me?

Around and in --
And up and down again,

and far and near --
and here and there,

in the middle is
a great round nothingness.

Not metaphoric,
flesh is literal earth.

turns to dust
as all the body must,

becomes the ground
wherein the seed's passed on.

Entries, each foot feels its own way,
echoes passage in persons,

holds the body upright,
the secret of thresholds, lintels,

opening body above it,
looks up, looks down, moves forward.

Necessity, the mother of invention,
father of intention,

sister to brother to sister, to innumerable others,
all one as the time comes,

death's appointment,
in the echoing head, in the breaking heart.

In self one's place defined,
in heart the other find.

In mind discover I,
in body find the sky.

Sleep in the dream as one,
wake to the others there found.

Emptying out
each complicating part,

each little twist of mind inside,
each clenched fist,

each locked, particularizing thought,
forgotten, emptying out.

What did it feel like
to be one at a time --

to be caught in a mind
in the body you'd found

in yourself alone --
in each other one?

Broken hearts, a curious round of echoes --
and there behind them the old garden

with its faded, familiar flowers,
where all was seemingly laced together --

a trueness of true,
a blueness of blue.

The truth is in a container
of no size or situation.

It has nothing

Worship --
Warship. Sail away.
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