He wants to be
a brutal old man,
an aggressive old man,
as dull, as brutal
as the emptiness around him,

He doesn’t want compromise,   
nor to be ever nice
to anyone. Just mean,
and final in his brutal,
his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,   
the gentle, the “oh,
let’s hold hands together”
and it was awful,
dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on
his own dwindling legs.   
His arms, his skin,   
shrink daily. And
he loves, but hates equally.

  • Robert Creeley, “Self-Portrait” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press, www.ucpress.edu.

  • Source: Selected Poems (University of California Press, 1991)

Poet Bio

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"I was initially very surprised by how unique each performer can make a poem. Even if twenty different kids are reciting the same poem, they will each make it their own and interpret it the way that they want to. "
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