06 March 2009

John Ashbery

[from John Ashbery’s Chinese Whispers, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002]

From the Diary of a Mole

Shoehorning in one’s own tribute to crustiness is another life-form for him. Something then went out of us. In the pagan dawn three polar bears stand in the volumetric sky’s grapeade revelation.

“Time to go to the thoughtful house.”

They may not get you here, they may not get you there, they may not get you everywhere, but they will get you somewhere. Yet the proposition never came to a vote, was not voted on. You see the realism in it? No, of course you don’t, for something else is still there, something to replace all of it in one block. Anent the spillway: His crimes are gorgeous but don’t matter just now. Later

we will call him on them. When it subsides. That is, everything.

Just a teardrop of milk, thanks. Don’t believe that rag. It inferred we were adolescents, once, that sex roared over us like a mudslide, leaving us. We were lost. So lost, in fact, that his mother didn’t know me till I came out toward her, and she knew me and was not afraid, was glad in fact, for the rainbow late in the day in its foam of cloud, poised above the basin. Then I had a preshrunk sweater sent to him and asked if there was anything else. “Nothing, a fresh breeze.” Still, leaves are asleep. The bears act as if no one’s there. She curls up in the curlew’s nest, weeping on its golden eggs. It took the savagery of centuries of animal conflict to bring us just short of this, and you, why have you done? Oh, I

don’t much matter I guess. If that’s all I’ll be on my way. To the box in which savage handwriting is hidden, too dense for you to decipher, too lorn for a world to unravel just now, but like they say I’ll be suing you. So really it’s fine until Christmas I can stand it, a runt, I’ll just go on blooming in my box, unaware of things sleeping pagans say about us, glad to crash, collapse the silk hat, garden’s done and I’m all in and breathless for a breather. Come right in. What world is this.

Chinese Whispers: Poems

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