Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Robert Kroetsch's Excerpts from the Real World

Lately I've been rereading Robert Kroetsch, wondering how to get back to that point I once was, writing notes for a sad phoenician. What is it about Robert Kroetsch that I keep returning to, to save my own life? I returned to him repeatedly during my stay in Alberta, but haven't dipped too much into him since I arrived home in June. Where does the time go? The last day or two, rereading his Excerpts from the Real World (Lantzville BC: Oolichan Books, 1986), something that was also included in his Completed Field Notes (1989; 2002). I've always liked the idea of the poetic diary, despite not yet having managed to work my own versions of the form. Will it save my life? Will that even matter in the end? Do I want to be left with poem and nothing more?


I should not have sought the unicorn beside the sea.
Your long hair spills down your back, before we
make love, like seaweed in the Bay of Fundy.
When you make love. Like the Bay of Fundy. (Robert Kroetsch)

Going back through old files, I wonder if there is anything salvageable in an old project I attempted in June, before everything shifted; an old project that perhaps could be resurrected, 'notes for a sad phoenician.' Will it make her less sad? Will anything I do or say bring this back again? Is this nothing more than my own attempts at repeating Kroetsch through my own language, instead of working my way out into my own?

postcards, the moon

Consider submission. Forget desire.
Robert Kroetsch, Competed Field Notes

June 1

I feel unground, foreign, strange. Is this what novelist Elizabeth Smart felt when returning to Canada after decades of England? Can you simply never go home?

jwcurry tells me about his new choral project, Alexander's Dark Band. It's named from the dark line in the sky between a first and second rainbow, holding colour away from the black.

June 2

It was even, when I talked to you, raining on television.

I am remembering you in the observation deck of the Edmonton airport, hand on the glass.

June 15

I am sitting in the Second Cup, directly after checking email, discovering a phone message from you, which seems to (lovingly) respond to the phone message I left you last night, after you had gone to bed.

A heavy, heavy Ottawa rain, pipe on the side of an empty building at Bank and Somerset, windowpipe pushing water a spout over the sidewalk a spray.

I do not know what this separation means, or what it will bring.

We are missing a fine warm rain. I am writing notes for poems that might never get written. I carry the manuscript of my novel around with me, an albatross unread. To even open it would be to untie the cord.

Would that be untied, or unbound? Today, I am having difficulty figuring out the difference.

June 17

Today a small postcard from you, that you
waited to mail. Push-pin hole

at the end, children on bicycles
and a pure dream of flying.

I miss you. At the window,
the strangest feeling. A horizon,

nothing more than
a false end.

June 18

Sometimes the trees forget themselves.
Sometimes they are like stars.

Or back to Kroetsch again, writing:


I hadn't noticed the margin. Eli Mandel was lectur-
ing on the myth of the frontier, this on the banks of
the Oldman River, to a band of Blackfoot warriors. I
fell off the page. The sun, unthinkingly (or so we
assume), bruised itself red on the flat horizon.

I do not wish to be left with poems, and only poems. There are miles, still, I have yet to travel. How can I get there?

1 comment:

Natalie said...

hey rob, nice post. Excerpts from the Real World is one of my favorite poetry books. i like the calm melancholy in yr poetic diary entries; they are Kroetschian, but not derivatively so...