Friday, July 17, 2020

Wakefullness by John Ashbery



An immodest little white wine, some scattered seraphs,

recollections of the Fall—tell me,

has anyone made a spongier representation, chased

fewer demons out of the parking lot

where we all held hands?


Little by little the idea of the true way returned to me.

I was touched by your care,

reduced to fawning excuses.

Everything was spotless in the little house of our desire,

the clock ticked on and on, happy about

being apprenticed to eternity. A gavotte of dust motes

came to replace my seeing. Everything was as though

it had happened long ago

in ancient peach-colored funny papers

wherein the law of true opposites was ordained

casually. Then the book opened by itself

and read to us: “You pack of liars,

of course tempted by the crossroads, but I like each

and every one of you with a peculiar sapphire intensity.

Look, here is where I failed at first.

The client leaves. History matters on,

rolling distractedly on these shores. Each day, dawn

condenses like a very large star, bakes no bread,

shoes the faithless. How convenient if it’s a dream.”


In the next sleeping car was madness.

An urgent languor installed itself

as far as the cabbage-hemmed horizons. And if I put a little

bit of myself in this time, stoppered the liquor that is our selves’

truant exchanges, brandished my intentions

for once? But only I get

something out of this memory.

A kindly gnome

of fear perched on my dashboard once, but we had all been instructed

to ignore the conditions of the chase. Here, it

seems to grow lighter with each passing century. No matter how you twist it,


life stays frozen in the headlights.

Funny, none of us heard the roar.

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