from “Clayfeld’s Farewell Epistle to Bob Pack”
Beneath this mellow harvest moon,
I can still picture you—a boy content
just fishing with his father from a ledge
above a foaming stream. The flailing trout
you caught is packed in gleaming ice;
the pink stripe all along its side
is smeared across black shiny dots
that seem to shine with their own light.
I’m sure that you can picture me
with equal vividness, and though we’re not
identical, there is a sense
in which I am inventing you
as much as you’re inventing me.
In Clayfeld Holds On, Robert Pack offers his readers a comprehensive portrait of his longtime protagonist Clayfeld, who is also Pack’s doppelgänger, his alternate self, enacting both the life that the poet has lived and the life he might have lived, given his proclivities and appetites. Poet and protagonist, taken together, are self and consciousness of self, the historical self and the embellished story of that literal self.
Written with a masterly ear for rhythm, and interweaving narrative and lyrical passages, the poems recount Clayfeld’s formative memories while exploring concepts such as loyalty, generosity, commitment, as well as cosmic phenomena such as the big bang theory and black holes. Through all of this, Pack attempts to find purpose and meaning in an indifferent universe, and to explore the labyrinth of his own proliferating identity.