Monday, May 25, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 39.10 (Robert Creeley)


A Day Book
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Creeley, Robert
A Day Book


This just arrived in the mail last week, having been purchased in the Amazon Marketplace. The book itself is quite stiff, as if it hadn't been opened in decades, but is in pretty good shape. Of all of Creeley's paperbacks, this one has my favorite cover. It was designed by Gary Indiana, dedicatee of the poem, "Numbers."

On the date listed on the front cover I was 25 days old. My family was still living in Dearborn, Mich., where I was born, and where my parents met while working at the Ford Motor Company. My father worked in leasing and my mother was part of Lee Iacocca's (very large) secretarial pool. Both drove 1968 Mustang convertibles. My mother had grown up in Detroit, my father in Brooklyn. They were married in August of 1967 at a Catholic church in downtown Detroit.

This, of course, was in the middle of the riots of 1967. martial law had been declared. Tanks flanked either side of the church. Alcohol had been banned from public events, including wedding receptions, which did not sit well with the Kelleher side of the family. Apparently, my father and my uncles ate their food as quickly as possible, danced a quick dance, wolfed down some cake, then rushed off to my grandparent's home in order to drink.

I was born a little more than a year later, on October 26, 1968. I was named after my father, though I took a middle name (John) that was closer to my mother's middle name (Joan). Both of my brothers were also given "J" middle names.

On the date listed on the back cover, I was two years, 8 months and 16 days old. By that time, my mother had become a housewife and my father had been transferred to California. We lived in Los Gatos, in what I remember as being a big house. I don't think it could have been very big, but it likely seemed big because it had two floors, where as all the other houses we lived in in Los Gatos were single-floor dwellings.

I have a few memories of that house:

In the living room there were floor-to-ceiling cabinets that I used to hide in.

The front yard sloped down toward the street and was covered in ivy.

We had a sandbox in the back yard in which I used to play with my friends Kathleen and Meghan.

My mother used to store the Flintstones Vitamins in a pantry in the kitchen. I once ate a whole bottle. My mother got very upset.

I have a memory of falling over backwards in a kitchen chair. At first I wrote, "and hitting my head on the floor,' but re-reading it clarifies the memory somewhat. I recall pushing my chair over backwards deliberately because my mother told me not to. She said I would hit my head on the floor. I did it anyway and did not hit my head on the floor and smiled defiantly at her, as if I had won a major victory over common sense.

Once my cousin John, from Long Island, was visiting. I was sitting in a chair in the living room holding a wooden toy in my hand. I threw it over my shoulder and over the back of the chair. John was hiding behind the chair and the wooden toy landed on my head. He told me that I had to let him throw it at me for payback. He wound up and threw it at my face, giving me my first black eye.

My father was often away on business. He always brought gifts when he returned. Once he brought a whole salmon he had caught (apparently while doing "business"). My mother cooked it up and we ate it and I remember really liking the way it tasted.

My parents said there were not enough children my age in that neighborhood, so we soon moved moved to another part of Los Gatos, probably in 1972 or 1973. My brother Chris was born in 1972, so it was probably in 1973 that we moved to the second house, where my second brother, Brian, was born in 1974. I think we moved again in 1975. And then in 1976 we moved to Vienna, Virginia.

from A Day Book

These space suits we float in. Gravity keeps us on the same so-called plane, so that the measure of possible presences is the fact we call distance between them. What I wanted, really, was one of those rigs you put on your back, a sort of jet power pack, like Buck Rogers had, that let him move at various levels from the ground. Fuck in the air, I say, and that's what Alex uses as climax in all senses, for that novel has the heroine and pilot demon lover fuck as the plane is going into final loop and dive from failure of gas. Fuck anywhere, "now that man has no oar to screw into the earth." Alan is talking of those gods from above, the air, and of the destructions they have made.

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