Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From Lobotomies to Creeley. New Pics!

Here's a recent picture my friend Kelton unexpectedly sent me, from inside the Headlands Cafe in Fort Bragg:

Today I have my fifth treatment at 4PM, due to surgery scheduling. Lobotomies take longer than ECT and we have to make room for all the ECT failures.

Pray for us, though I always forget the saint of lobotomies. Did I say that already? Oh well, being vacuous doesn't come easy, I'm sure he or she must have suffered a feeling of emptiness at the least.

Yesterday I flew my $10 Costco Space Shuttle kite at Coyote Point on the Bay, and the wind shifted during the afternoon so that it flew it in both directions, as one would expect of a manic-depressive's kite.

I'm not through crying over my daughter and the fact that I can't see my grandson, I expect to take those tears to the grave--but they are not hopeless tears. I can be a part of Jacob's life once I get well. I intend to make it a priority. Wouldn't you? Just look at the tyke!

What a relief, the tears of grief. Cleansing, wholesome, life- and love-affirming. How different from the bitter tears of depressions, where one is overwhelmed by one's unworthiness to such a degree that the most painful thought is the idea of someone wasting their love on you.

If I had a lobotomy I could finally write like Robert Creeley, reams of anti-poetry bereft of music and metaphor. But we wouldn't want that, would we? Let me give it a try:

When they strap the electrodes to my head
and the anesthesia burns
I know I will wake up foggy,
hope I don't pee myself.

Creeley is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated by the Academy of American Poets; he was truly an emperor with no clothes. Anti-poetry. What will they think of next? Oh, right, John Cage already did anti-music and Pollock did anti-art. The difference between them and Creeley is that they truly had talent and chose to go in a certain direction; Creeley's lack of talent left him no choice.

Norm Ball and I have been trading e-mails about this lately. If there are any fans or defenders of Creeley out there, please stand up and we will give you a fair hearing. I think my next critical essay (and I mean critical) will be, "Robert Creeley, Minimalist Fraud?" Were it not for his theorizing with Charles Olson we would have forgotten him, as history surely will. As has been well said, Robert Duncan was the best Black Mountain poet and you don't hear about him much. Better to be weird than good.

Speaking of which, I thought: What about a return to rhythmic poetry, not necessarily rhymed, ala Swinburne and Vachel Lindsay? I see so much "chopped prose," even where I am assured it is a "better board." What happened to the kind of poetry that makes you speak it in a certain cadence? Isn't that what poetry's about? It's certainly the origin of poetry, the chant and the drum. Let's see if I can change my Creeley poem into a different sort of example:

Strap the electrodes to my head
with a twist and tweak and a hey hidey ho
I"ll take the current and play I'm dead
with a drool and a stool and a hey hidey ho
Though the anesthesia burns like crap
with an ouch and a grouch and a lickety-split
I won't be deprived of my battery nap
let my brain be the plain in a lightning fit!

OK, so this comes perilously close to rap, but look, in a more subtle way, how good poetry makes you conform to its rhythm when read out loud, rhymed or not:

"I like its heft, I like to stretch
my knuckles against its links and feel
the ache of constant use relax."

(from my poem, "About the Bracelet," published in niederngasse, whose archives I can't find or I'd post a link).

These lines are regular blank tetrameter. I flatter myself to think that the language sounds like the stretching of a bracelet. In all my work I try to define my rhythms, though they are not alway so obvious as this.

So I digressed from lobotomies to Creeley. That's a sign of health. Endless digressions and indiscretions, the bloviator's club. You like me, you really like me!

Thine in Truth and Kilowatts,

Craig Erick


  1. For over 40 years, I've never found Creeley to be anything but seriously underwhelming, at his very best.

  2. The poem you cite is on your own blog a while back



  3. Thanks, Hedgie, glad I'm not the only one.

    Yes, Shann, you have a great memory--then you're not undergoing ECT! I just picked those three lines for their regularity; I wasn't concerned that anyone see the poem again. ;-)

  4. I just finished reading some of your posts. You are brilliant, part of that brilliance comes from the things you feel so very intensely. Everything we experience becomes part of who we are and even our gifts to the world.

    I wish you the very best in the outcome of treatment, and the eventual (and soon)reunion with the beautiful little light of your life (grandson).

  5. Anonymous11:27 AM PST

    Grand Theft Auto

    Stripping a car
    to its wheels and its fenders
    robs it of style and the risk
    from rear-enders.

    But what do you have
    once the chop-shop is done
    'cept an absence of lines
    and a car that won't run?

    --norm ball

  6. Anonymous5:31 PM PST

    Robert Creeley: A verbose kindergarten

  7. Enjoyed your post, C.E. Glad you're getting some relief from the ECT. (I'm waiting for the home unit to come out :)

    Hang in there.

  8. I read somewhere there may be home units available, but they don't sound like the real thing, which is etter approximated by an electric livestock fence:


    Only $500!


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!