Monday, April 4, 2011

National Poetry Month: Robert Creeley

Robert Creeley

Who said you didn't want
to keep what you got
and would help the other guy
share the bulging pot

of goodies you got
just by being bought
on time by the plot
wouldn't give you a dime

sick or not
you've got to stay well
if you want to buy time
for a piece of the lot

where you all can hang out
when you aren't sick in bed
blood running out
bones broken down

eyes going blind
ears stuffed up
stomach a bloat
you battered old goat

but nothing to keep up
no payments to make
no insurance is fine
when you plan to die

when you don't mind the wait
if you can't stand up
and all the others are busy
still making money

"Help" appeared in the collection Life & Death by Robert Creeley (New Directions, 1998). Creeley died March 30, 2005. From the 1998 review by Tom Clark, SF Gate: For the poet now starting his eighth decade, what could be more natural than to find the foremost of those ties in the inexorably approaching fact of closure? Death in these poems is not simply a "subject,/ or a place / in time," but an ever-encroaching presence, hauntingly pervasive. Physical decline in the poems of "Life & Death" is unswervingly confronted. Tonally, such ruminations sometimes waver riskily between stoic wit and simple self-pity. How does one bid adieu without seeming maudlin? What finally saves these poems from the potential bathos of their grimly obsessive subject matter is an unflinching honesty, exercised at the expense of a gallant self-image; that honesty earns important rewards of reader trust. Even at their most insistently morbid, the poems win us over by reminding us how much of what they reveal about the author's condition is, like it or not, ours to share.

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