Yesterdays

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005 Robert Creeley
Sixty-two, sixty-three, I most remember   
As time W. C. Williams dies and we are   
Back from a hard two years in Guatemala   
Where the meager provision of being   
Schoolmaster for the kids of the patrones
Of two coffee plantations has managed   
Neither a life nor money. Leslie dies in   
Horror of bank giving way as she and her   
Sister and their friends tunnel in to make   
A cubby. We live in an old cement brick   
Farmhouse already inside the city limits   
Of Albuquerque. Or that has all really   
Happened and we go to Vancouver where,   
Thanks to friends Warren and Ellen Tallman,   
I get a job teaching at the University of British   
Columbia. It’s all a curious dream, a rush   
To get out of the country before the sad   
Invasion of the Bay of Pigs, that bleak use   
Of power. One of my British colleagues   
Has converted the assets of himself and   
His wife to gold bullion and keeps the   
Ingots in a sturdy suitcase pushed under   
Their bed. I love the young, at least I   
Think I do, in their freshness, their attempt   
To find ways into Canada from the western   
Reaches. Otherwise the local country seems   
Like a faded Edwardian sitcom. A stunned   
Stoned woman runs one Saturday night up   
And down the floors of the Hydro Electric   
Building on Pender with the RCMP in hot
Pursuit where otherwise we stood in long   
Patient lines, extending often several blocks   
Up the street. We were waiting to get our   
Hands stamped and to be given a 12 pack   
Of Molson’s. I think, I dream, I write the   
Final few chapters of The Island, the despairs   
Gathering at the end. I read Richard Brautigan’s   
Trout Fishing In America but am too uptight   
To enjoy his quiet, bright wit. Then that   
Summer there is the great Vancouver Poetry   
Festival, Allen comes back from India, Olson   
From Gloucester, beloved Robert Duncan   
From Stinson Beach. Denise reads “Hypocrite   
Women” to the Burnaby ladies and Gary Snyder,   
Philip Whalen, and Margaret Avison are there   
Too along with a veritable host of the young.   
Then it’s autumn again. I’ve quit my job   
And we head back to Albuquerque   
And I teach again at the university, and   
Sometime just about then I must have   
Seen myself as others see or saw me,   
Even like in a mirror, but could not quite   
Accept either their reassuring friendship   
Or their equally locating anger. Selfish,   
Empty, I kept at it. Thirty-eight years later   
I seem to myself still much the same,   
Even if I am happier, I think, and older.

Robert Creeley, "Yesterdays" from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005. Copyright © 2006 by Robert Creeley.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975-2005. (University of California Press, 2006)

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Poet Robert Creeley 1926–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Death, Life Choices, Living, Relationships

Occasions Birthdays

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Robert  Creeley

Biography

Once known primarily for his association with the group called the “Black Mountain Poets,” at the time of his death in 2005, Robert Creeley was widely recognized as one of the most important and influential American poets of the twentieth century. His poetry is noted for both its concision and emotional power. Albert Mobilio, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, observed: “Creeley has shaped his own audience. The much . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Death, Life Choices, Living, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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