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   Jacket 31 — October 2006        link Jacket 31 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage
Robert Creeley

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Joel Weishaus

A Poem Addressed to Robert Creeley on His Poem “Histoire De Florida.”

This piece is about 2 printed pages long.

We begin with mirrors, ancient portals —
water, burnished wood, metal, any surface
that reflects “brother face,” as to pass through,
beyond the world we commonly experience,
or think we do. A split here; another you
facing you.

Today I am apposite to Florida, an inland shore,
yet tied to the sea by commerce and tradition,
drawn to that “simple ending,” as you say;
and to so many “little deaths,” as Patchen said,
in so much in pain, so wronged. Not like Nitsch,
whom you honor for the sake of art history,
chopped his penis like so much sushi. Not the,
not the, not the scientific method: who would
repeat this experiment to prove the artist mad?

Your anecdotes, Bob, are a vast community
providing missing links. We have the skulls
of who we were, and who we are; but who
we might we become, given time, it seems
are in the interstices, no separation but in time.

Death is both signifier and signified. Does the sign
say STOP, or GO (?) Your time was up, so young.
How many poems we now cherish would not have
been made! A poem appears from what death?

With Leary, you say, he didn’t “die.” He passed
like one passes gas. (A clown, by trade, Tim
would have laughed.)

It’s almost the next day. All I have to do is wait
and it happens. The Hopi feel they must perform
rituals, or else the sun won’t rise. (It doesn’t.
We turn.) It has to do with apparent flow.
Indeed, the crone eats from a paper bag,
while the young are indefatigable
in their essence.
Why do we get old so fast?
What did we accomplish during those years?
Why must we accomplish anything?

There is nothing to wait for that isn’t here

The illusion of surplus, of storage. I feel,
so as not to fade, I must remain invisible.

Ever since the year before my father died
I’ve been arriving in Florida. Stevens was
merely a voyeur. Frost’s wife died upstairs,
in Gainesville, a university town. Keroauc
died choking on a mug of sour Fame.
And your pathos, being a man whose words
are as if carved in his cells by an “anonymous
hand,” as in Mandelstam’s poem, to which
you don’t confess. I, for one, take history
with a drop of brine that stings the tongue.

But what is Florida without alligators?
I’ve got one; yours, too, is stored in a “book.”
Books store the past more consistently than
the brain, which shrinks, Are we inside,
or outside? I’m alone, and I’m still alive, while
you say: No one’s alone/No world’s that small…

Florida must have predators with sharp teeth.
Here’s one that ate Ponce de Leon in one gulp.
(Ponce actually died from an indigenous arrow).

You’re getting it right!

And there is also humility of decay.
Bodies become humus, souls are born like drops
of fresh dew; not only is this world one,
if you can get there, but the last one’s one too.

I went to the beach to collect shells, the ribs of things,
only to find cigarette butts and used condoms,
some shards of shells, with nothing alive inside.

Mother’s almost blind, sister’s in Florida too.
Friends suddenly appear on my screen, writing:
“What’s happening?” “I just returned from Paris.”
“Are we related?” In Florida. Like nothing else.