Robert Vivian

Creative Nonfiction

Robert Vivian’s most recent books are Mystery My Country and Traversings, which was co-written with the poet Richard Jackson.


Essay Breathless in A World of Cloud And Smoke

Because he can’t say it softly or sweetly enough, because the sight of it all blows him flush away, because he is ponyless, soul dependent little tugboat survivor, masterless, clueless even, an almost holy fool, because he is naked all adoring down to the tendons in his toes the one who sent him and wrote him even the one writing him now, essay gone wild, essay on the loose, essay freewheeling and spinning, dancing in a room by himself, because he is leaping over the sofa and leaping over the coffee table, because he is standing in front of a huge bay window looking out on a world of frost and ice, because he is in love with the tiny clipped wings of an apostrophe, because he is coming out of the closet as a drag poem and the fire hydrant is flooding the downtown streets and essay wants some free gushing water even as he is free rushing flowing stream hob-gobbling over the pebbles himself, because he was asthmatic as a child and tried to jump out a two-story window in the middle of a nightmare, because he is in love with the downy flight of swans and because he prays, Dear Lord, grant me a grain of thy courage, because his heart is an open highway and anyone is welcome to drive across him, even criminals, even petty bureaucrats and strung-out teenagers, because he has inherited the kingdom of noun and verb and they become tender playthings that bounce and collide and have sex with great joy, because he is root withered starer and gawker of anything beautiful, neighborhood deer and cornfield sunset dripping like a bloody orange, because paragraphs to him are different countries with their own cuisine and folk dances, dandelion wine, because he eschews bridles and spits them out one after the other even the ones dipped in raspberry ice cream, because he is haunted by Mandelstam and his last train ride to Vladivostok, because he loves who he loves who he loves and there’s a little dried blood on his best white shirt, because he refuses to be hemmed in by the covers of a book or the train tracks of a single meaning, because words are simply instruments and gateways to newer sounds and moaning, because he has found his footing in the silty and shifting bottom of a river, because when he is finally able to catch his breath he is startled to find that his breath has caught him, because he keeps asking again and again and again, Where did it all come from, who sent it and where shall I fall to my knees for the umpteenth time and who will be waiting for me when I rise again, trembling like a flame to warm you.