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but more like staring into a creek or a lake than staring into a static mirror. The “New American Poets” gave my generation this gift, and they had received it likewise from Williams and Pound, who had received it from Whitman. Etcetera. Creeley was a handsome and charismatic guy in a disheveled and very personal sort of way. At an early age, he had been blinded in one eye; he wore a patch over the bad eye, which made him even more attractive. He loved fervent conversationespecially about poetry took young poets seriously, and easily invited us into his circle. He would sitdown, elbows on the arms of the chair, hands clasped. Then he would lean forward and peer at us with that one eye as he answered our questions about how a poem is made. He would talk about content becoming form and form becoming content, about using a typewriter or a pencil, about legal-sized pads of yellow paper as opposed to notebooks, about all these many things. And he would tell us stories about Kerouac, Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Charles Olson, and William Carlos Williams. Not gossiping stories, but stories with an intent to reveal something about poetry and living life like a poet with eyes and ears wide open. His stories became parables in our hearts. It was a paradise. I wanted so much to be a poet. Creeley and his poems were addictive. If you read too much Creeley, which I of course did, then you started writing like him with short perfect lines, simple nouns and verbs, short little ditties that were oblique and tantalizing with innuendo. Opening up any poetry magazine of the time you could find young poets scattered across the United States who had been snorting and smoking too much Creeley. But if you were serious about your craft, and you understood his ideas about form, then you would go find other poets and sources that led you back home to yourself. It was exhilarating. As the years passed I’d bump into him in various places. We’d talk like old friends and compare notes, we’d drink wine and laugh, and he’d tell me stories about poets and poems, peer After Lorca for M. Marti And the poor love it and think it’s crazy. Robert Creeley ing at me through that one mysterious eye. The cadences of his conversation were the same cadences of his poetry. I was always scuttling back to his poems, more sure of myself, reading them, and being amazed. And I would always be reminded of the sense of a community of poets that Creeley had passed along to us. I still feel that way when I hear and read poems I like, and when I write poems, or an essay like this one. It’s a sense of participating in community that together we are feeding the luminous beast which is poetry. Ezra Pound said poets and artiste are the antennae of their race, and Creeley loved to remind his listeners of that statement, wondering aloud what it meant. That’s why I put Creeley and Pope John Paul II together on Charon’s rickety boat floating on the River Styx toward the other shore. The Pope feels confused and out of place afloat the dark waters. He was the spiritual leader of a feudalistic institution that wields enormous sway in the world he has just departed, but its symbols and paraphernalia of a God-ordered universe no longer seem to catch hold. Its power and majesty are subsiding. I like to imagine that in the quiet of his heart the Pope understood that the struggle was about ideas and mythos, but he was never able to grasp evolutionary theory and the New Physics; those ideas didn’t fit comfortably inside the Cathedral. And now the Pope sits facing his companion, a goofy one-eyed poet with an unkempt beard. The guy seems nervous and unsure of himself, but he’s scribbling on a piece of paper. “What are you doing?” “Writing a poem.” “About what?” The poet leans forward and says, “Well, I don’t know yet. I let the poems bubble up from the mud. It’s sort of like everything else:’ “But what does your poem say so far?” “It says, Death is so much emptiness, huh?” “Well, maybe,” the Pope says. Charon, the ancient ferryman, dips his pole into the dark water and pushes his boat toward the other shore. He says absolutely nothing. He never will. Bobby Byrd is a poet \(The Price of and copublisher of Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso. Robert Creeley was born in Arlington, Massachusetts. At the time of his death, he had just begun a two-month Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa. An excellent place to begin researching his life and work can be found at http://epc. buffalo. edu/authors/creeley/. The church is a business, and the rich are the business men. When they pull on the bells, the poor come piling in and when a poor man dies, he has a wooden cross and they rush through the ceremony. But when a rich man dies, they drag out the Sacrament and a golden Cross, and go doucement, doucement to the cemetery. APRIL 29, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23