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A New Path to the Waterfall: Looking for Work

June 26, 2008

“Looking For Work”

by Raymond Carver from A New Path to the Waterfall

I’ve always wanted brook trout
for breakfast.

Suddenly, I find a new path
to the waterfall.

I begin to hurry.
Wake up,

my wife says,
you’re dreaming.

But when I try to rise,
the house tilts.

Who’s dreaming?
It’s noon, she says.

My new shoes wait by the door.
They are gleaming.

In my previous post, I mentioned I am looking for favorites on this blog. This poem has always been one of my favorite poems, from one of my favorite collections of poetry, by one of my favorite poets, Ray Carver, a  mentor even.  I  love the cleanness of his work, the simplicity of this poem. Carver just tells it all in such a matter of fact way yet it’s surreal, it makes me wonder, it stays with me. Which way is up? What’s a dream? A whole life is conveyed in this sonnet of a poem.

I want to find a new path to the waterfall. I am looking for work, metaphorically and literally. I see my new shoes there by the door. I am gleaming as I walk through the door. Wish me luck on my new adventure! Remember to write!

As Carver writes in the closing lines of “Fat” from his short story collection Will You Please Be Quiet Please?

“My life is going to change. I can feel it.”

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2008 11:55 am

    Ahh. Raymond Carver. I had a professor at Pitt who was good friends with him. Needless to say, they both hold a special spot in my heart.

  2. June 26, 2008 4:55 pm

    He taught for a while at UC Santa Cruz, before I went there, and he was good friends with many of my profs, so when he was giving a reading at Stanford, he was going to come talk to my creative writing class with his friend Jim Houston. Unfortunately, with the cancer closing in on his life, he had to cancel. We did go see him read his short story “Elephant” which was electrifying and I met him, shook his hand, and had him sign my first edition of Cathedral (which my ex has but that’s ok).

  3. June 26, 2008 8:33 pm

    Do you mean you are looking for work and changing your life? That will be cool, change is always for the better I say, evidence of life, only dead things don’t change. I have never read Raymond Carver but I shall, that is a cool poem.

  4. June 26, 2008 9:46 pm

    That is definitely a nice poem.

  5. June 27, 2008 3:11 pm

    yes, I am looking for work that will change my life…change is growth, life! as a teacher, I work to be a change agent for my students and to work for change myself, in my self, in our community…

    carver is awesome, his poetry, his essays, his short stories. very honest writing, they called it “dirty realism.” he grew up working class and he wrote most about working class life and issues and challenges. i was having a hard time getting into “masters” like updike, cheever (i loved cheever but what world did he live in? i had never seen it, back then middle class and upper class wealth was like another planet to me). i wish someone had introduced me to tillie olsen back then…

    there are a few works of his on my other blog (the write alley on my blogroll or)

    cathedral is his most moving short story.

    i could talk about carver all day.

  6. December 30, 2008 4:55 pm

    Ok. You have reminded me of my desire to read everything he’s ever written. (This may be my only new year’s resolution.) My writing teacher in Portland, Martha Gies, was taught by him. You might enjoy her essay:

  7. December 30, 2008 7:51 pm

    I need to put in on my reading list. (and that reading list is getting longer and longer)…

    Good luck with finding the new path to the waterfall! And a better 2009 – even if 2008 was good!

  8. December 30, 2008 8:57 pm

    yes that is a fine journey, deb! not a light hearted one, but a meaningful one–enjoy!

    thanks for the link to the essay!

    annamari, he’s an essayist, a short story writer and a poet. “fires” has a little bit of each; where i am calling from is an amazing sort story collection

    i;d hate to choose which poetry collection…


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