On Meeting Robert Creeley


I walked in circles more like figure eights

crisscrossing the streets in and around

Kendall Square and MIT—it’s not like,

having lived in Somerville for a year,

I was a stranger to Cambridge—but

I couldn’t find his reading that evening

the way I couldn’t find a better job in Boston

than Inventory Lead Clerk at the Borders.

The humid air was nothing compared

to the misery of missing what I came for.

Like an abandoned guitar case, I sat

on a bench for an hour and a half outside

the Au Bon Pain, unsure what to do, not

wanting to go back home to the apartment

to my girlfriend who was ready to kick me

out for breaking my hand against the wall,

for shouting at the fridge for being empty

and the books on my shelves for sitting

there, mocking me, making me sneeze,

and for wanting nothing but sex and food

and time enough to hurl my body into

the sheetrock substitute for the fire field

of poetry. And then I saw him across

the street. I made my way over and told him

I had hoped to catch him read but couldn’t

find my way. He shook his head and smiled,

then suggested we duck into BeanTowne

Coffee House, grab a cup, and chat a bit.

He told me how he “never forgot Williams’s

contention that ‘the poet thinks with his poem,

in that lies his thought, and that in itself

is the profundity.’” I protested when he

forbade me to pick up the tab, his fingers

landing on mine like a rain which lets you

know not to go. “Kindness is beauty,”

he said, “and that’s the truth. The one thing

we need to remember. That our words

be the pieces to the world we amount to.”

And before we stood up to pop the road

in the nose, I recited a short work of my own

that I carried in my head about riding the T

with a name tag on and reading what other

passengers were reading while I held

The Cities by Paul Blackburn with its blue

cover in my one good hand. I spiraled out

of my head and the roof through the rafters

when after a pause he called it a candle

with just enough light to illumine the room

within the room we were sitting in that night.

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