Why the echo of
the old music
haunting all? Why

the lift and fall
of the old rhythms,
and aches and pains.

Why one, why two,
why not go utterly
away from all of it.
- Such Strangeness of Mind

PIECES heralds the arrival of the style for which Creeley will be recognized. Relentless fragmentation lends the collection its title, PIECES. The first collection to prominently feature the style and formal innovation for which the poet is known. Indeed, the relentless fragmentation is a departure from Creeley's early work. Perhaps he wanted to disrupt the "echo of / the old music / haunting all". Perhaps he wanted to "go utterly / away from all of it". And he did. This collection belongs with T. S. Eliot's THE WASTE LAND, Allen Ginsberg's HOWL, and other collections the way we think about poetry, the way we read poetry, and the way future generations write poetry.

In his previous collection of poetry, WORDS, Creeley wrote a poem called "A Piece" that is simply "One and / one, two, / three." Here, Creeley seems to be alluding to a certain monotony that has plagued poets and poetry for years. Even Creeley's poetry is plagued. With PIECES, Creeley attacks the monotony he identified in WORDS. The poem "Such Strangeness of Mind" seems to directly address the plague presented in "A Piece" - "Why one, why two / why not go utterly / away from all of it." Three is dropped altogether. Creeley is interrupting the pattern, the pattern that is as familiar to us as counting. Perhaps this is why counting and numbers are such a prominent part of PIECES...

We are seven, echoes in
my head like a nightmare of
responsibility - seven
days in the week, seven
years for the itch of
unequivocal involvement.
- Numbers, Seven

Love one.
Kiss two.
- The Day Comes and Goes

The first
time is
the first
time. The
second
time think
again.
- The First Time

Before I die.
Before I die.
Before I die.
Before I die.
- Four


The collection begins abruptly. The poem is seemingly untitled. The reader later understands that many of the poems are simply named for the first line of the poem. Creeley is no longer preoccupied with the superfluous gesture of naming things (thereby aligning himself with the Abstract Expresionists). The collection feels less like a collection and more like one long poem, with the poems flowing one into another. If individual poems are named, the naming is intentional. The break of a title acts like the break of a line or a stanza. In this way the collection begins - with the rapid flow of shorter poems (the first of which directly address the poet's attention to form), and then the abrupt halt caused by the longer poem "The Finger"...

As real as thinking
wonders created
by the possibility -

forms. A period
at the end of a sentence
which

began it was
into a present,
a presence

saying
something
as it goes.
- As Real As Thinking

Cup.
Bowl.
Saucer.
Full.
- Having To

The nakedness
burned. Her heavy breath,
her ugliness, her lust -
but her laughing, her low

chuckling laugh, the way
she moved her hand to the
naked breast, then to
her belly, her hand with its fingers.

Then shone -
and whatever is said
in the world, or forgotten,
or not said, makes a form.

The choice is simply,
I will - as mind is a finger,
pointing, as wonder
a place to be.

Listen to me, let
me touch you
there. You are young again,
and you are looking at me.
- The Finger


Something interesting about this collection, that I haven't encountered in any other of Creeley's collections, is the inclusion of prose-poems...

Streets as ever blocky, grey - square sense of rectangular enclosures, emphasized by the coldness of the time of year, and the rain. In moving in the cab - continual sense of small (as size, i.e., all "cars," etc.) persistent difficulties.
- NYC -

In this fact of face and body - looking out - a kind of pleasure. That is, no argument stops me. Not - "yes" - "no" - gradually? Only involvement as openings, sexual also, seem to be - but is "no" my final way of speaking? E.g. a "poet" of such impossibilities "I" make up?
- Echo


Here, again, is evidence of Creeley interrupting the "echo" that is the monotony that plagues poetry. This subject matter and this way of writing resurfaces throughout the collections, as if a dialogue is being held somewhere behind the scenes (and we, the readers, are only privy to snippets)...

Can't myself
let off this
fiction. "You
don't exist,

baby, you're
dead." Walk
off, on - the
light bulb

overhead, beside,
or, the bed, you
think you laid
on? When, what.
- Echo Of

The which it
was, form
seen - there
here, re-
peated for/
as/ - There
is a "parallel".
- The Which It Was

The voice of the
echo of time, the
same - "I

know you," no
pain in that, we are
all around what we are.
- In the House of Old Friend


Once again, Creeley demonstrates his love for poetry by including allusions to the poets he admires, poets such as Edward Dahlberg, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen, Charles Olson, and Louis Zukofsky...

No knowledge rightly understood
can deprive us of the mirth of flowers.
- Edward Dahlberg (quoted in "Flowers")

Allen's saying as we fly out of NTC - the look of the city underneath us like a cellular growth, "cancer" - so that senses of men on the earth as an investment of it radiates a world cancer - Burroughs' "law" finally quite clear.
- Forms' Passage

"But now it's come to distances . . ."
- Leonard Cohen (quoted in "No Clouds")

Allen last night - context of how include the output of human function in an experience thereof makes the fact of it become possibility of pleasure - not fear, not pain. Everybody spends it (the "life" they inhabit) all - hence, no problem of that kind, except (large fact) in imagination.
- The Which It Was

Thinking of Olson - "we are
as we find out we are."
- P.S.

Want to get the sense of "I" into Zukofsky's "eye" - a locus of experience, not a presumption of expected value.
- Kids Walking


Two of my favourite stanzas (from the same poem)...

Never write
to say more
than saying
something.
- One / The Sun

Words
are
pleasure.
All
words.
- One / The Sun


Another two of my favourite stanzas (from the same poem)...

I want to help you
by understanding what
you want me to
understand by saying so.
- The Friends

I listen. I had
an ego once upon
a time - I do still,
for you listen to me.
- The Friends