Hear John Ashbery read more from The New Spirit & other of his poems here.
Hear John Ashbery read more from The New Spirit & other of his poems here.
epea-pteroenta said: Could you go back to sleep?
Nah, I didn’t try. I figured my subconscious was telling me to get busy.
I needed that, the stern look inside a look
inside: that’s called delusional empathy.
I heard you were trying new ventures,
hats of different sizes, waves to odd
motion, intransitive verbs indicating love.
The quitting season pretends it’s not so
damn hot, that movement is not so sticky,
that DNA will not collapse from solipsism.
You can do it on your own, reach to
terraform the unbelieving desire for more,
fixated on little dots on the horizon’s edge
moving further away as the rest turns to blood.
During retrograde amnesia, the decay of
syllables becomes climax: interracial couples
walking the sidewalks. Cream plus sundress,
I’ve got a sequestered case of helium
to help me remember what innocence sound
can be again. I didn’t want it to be everything
that has transposed onto the earth, where
it is safe and dangerous, however the final
possibility defined through pale choice
suggests nothing is the hell of fabric that
won’t be understood. There’s twelve rungs
on the ladder and only one first step.
I heard your fever broke through the door,
that engines are one big windmill powered
by death, that nothing is ever greater than
the ubiquity of the present moment that
continues as we skate along the craggy wood.
I can sometimes hear the noise of Brooklyn
outside my bathroom window, I run outside and
all that’s left are kids playing knock out.
The inappropriate thought, the love of women,
the inclination toward pure suffering: nine times
out of ten I’ll break my hand with a large hammer
as an excuse to go to the ER and be touched.
the dream in which i check two clocks and both say i’m late, i’ve overslept, then my panicked brain wakes me up from my nap and it’s 3 hours earlier than my dream suggested
spark made. regrets of fucking many,
a feat for the very sortilege of bullshit,
spark made. an avalanche upon the
stupid jump, a loss unrelated to heart
but of the heart. of weakness I, of
flaccid natures and peculiar habits,
of black dreams, blacker daylight,
unknown desultory trodding the
unusual streets in unusual clothes,
far places to rest my crisis on, fair
aqueduct, running a pleasant static
over my web of lies. yea, spark
made, I broke, so then uplifted nothing
to my place in clarity’s tomb, o manic
depressive, before I knew it out the
window thinking grace to the ground
where busted SPINE. I lived then on
upon basis of sorrow, fortitude
delicious enough to busted SPINE to
make of me a ragged, barely
functioning infant, a tired infant, you
know, with bags under his eyes
or some shit, waiting for Nöel, but,
my presence was cheap, a cent by
cent sense made, a collected sense
nobodies has all patience ta lishen
tew. yeah, these three, these three
fuckers: events, situations, shenanigans
really: I jumped the gun and followed
my nose, near-robotic, to the first
tranquility seen, an escape of mind to
peace ultimate, as if all it a game,
the goal for honorific, saddle with god.
well, I did, not expecting retalitions
of that eddy’s core I saw the ghost
of once, an imprint of a once-lord of
things, creator, sustainer by death,
a cosmic nothing to tap me to insane,
to death, like bits of water-torture
plumb on the nose, until nothing was
uplifted for years, me shifting within
my weathered bones, making this
nuisance of discomfiture my nature,
feeding it beyond all decision, lullingly,
I was tried by regret, rehearse my
simpering apologies, I ate the mother-
fucking horse I beat to death at least,
at least this, a pain too wordy to call
it only that but every word I’ve evah
scribbled, to scram the nuisance.
lost the love, my flaccid, bumbling
heart now with no object: needing none
anyway as I found: love your people,
do not love this unalive effigy burning
your mind down my mind says to me
through its own overloaded cells,
its own tricky ambivalences more of
that bleeds through, to the point of
inscrutable metaphor, a loop of my
SPINE a-squeal as I come in to look
at me prick, maybe suck - it - too,
tell a nun or something : tell here to
come back, as I ward off anxieties
in the psyche ward, disembodied:
lithium maybies werk fer sum peple,
na dunnit work for I. it’s that shunned
feeling that’s the most peculiarly
crucial: the venom ebbs sans drugs
at all : it also crucial to live: lithium
in me opinion, is taken when the
need to correct chemical imbalance
overrides quality of life : my masthead,
nearly broken, my godhead seen and
in all its ugliness spoken, I perceived
that eddy further into a developing atom,
the birth of an adom, me delirious eve
of bathos, sunderedness: thinking of
her dirty sundress w polka dotss -
her cumin ta mete out rightful ire, at
least, on an infinite plane, the fate of
my effusiveness, the lurking battle I
would lose, already done, and me
at this point happy: will so I hurtled
to the ground: well, I lost the love atm
"of my life" and for years after nursed
an untidy, protracted-growing
obsession held in a box of letters under
my bed : they were sweet letters, they
settled SPINE : not in to reconfigurations*
never went to physical therapy for
the becoming shards : becoming that is
for a life already hell, in love with hell,
wishing to be the void of god I saw
that one night after - manic visions strewn
hastily - barely thought-wise, mixing
letters for meaning, next weeks I can
remember after - that quality three-week
amnesia, what a chunk! of life! - on a
newspaper, a few reaaaams actually
of the prophetic bullshit: written terrors,
to dis day canawt figurit a’out :sheez,
but what, play god ??? change hell ter
heavens, says I. dat not playing god.
dat shenanigans on the personality of
memories you retain: my mom always
told me a’saith : it is never too late to
have a happy childhood : a’saith: it is
to late to have a happy teen love: with
whether P. the dunes of ex I find wave
theire dust into my breaths still, I
stranded like Oxymandias among a
choir of Shellys. Ihopeapoet is my final
bearer of pall. but at least now I have
these words that say the word pain -
to stave me off from thinking death w
my dirigible mind, a ricochet across
very planets, whom in greatness watch
my odd foolish presumptions with
contempt: I was in Psych WArd once
and guy gave me is oxycontin: he had
back problems: then I took my vikes
without letting nurse check if I cheeked
'em : she yelled hey get back here, and,
hear this, and, I say : I am in pain.
good thing, and little did I know I was
fated to speak the word only, perhaps
feel infinitely otherwise wit each new
abstract delight, each painful detail
scoured: yer artform, say nurse in my mind,
and I tell her, she is as real as words,
words on an eddying atom.
The world falls apart before noon
in the quest to change our mood.
The thing that was here is no longer,
where having feelings meant burying
your head under smoothed stones and
falling into a rusty gutter. Who knows how
to convert two American dollars into
a week’s worth of food, but it can happen
like some inevitable June I didn’t write.
This is one horoscope after another
explaining a plucky opportunity for
embracing new flavors, resting between
months, a convergence of symbolism
that plays the piano with cat feet.
Dreaming of the Cadillac hearing aid,
did I mention the forest through which
understanding has a timeshare? The noise
of muscles chewing gum stiffens concave
pauses in traffic, beeping, beeping.
I don’t blame you for any unintended
consequence of mowing the lawn
as the insects fan out in search of
a new home where the radio could play
an aged male voice, soft, telling us that
everything will be fine even though the fire
alarm has been missing its battery since
July and I smell an unnatural existence
between words that pass through
the plurality of vocal cords. He puts
a blue bowl of milk out as he speaks.
Big nerds everywhere are waiting to be
released from human bodies, sweat
conductance, atrial compunction, avian flu,
and the local arrival of hemorrhagic fever.
You avoid the hot cat, stay sober and
efficient, have neon orange sweatpants
with large black lettering, and advance
in clever suspense toward white swinging
doors calling your birth name in mumbles.
the dream in which i go back in time with a friend and the world is literally falling apart, like some time induced retrograde decomposition, and we’re on a noble quest - to do drugs
The phase change
begins as green
bulges. And shoulder
contagion through spit
am I right?
Milk day in jail is the best
fall down drunk with rage,
but it’s safe
to stare at walls.
Anyway, that’s the script
I’m committed to
two years of voluntary
You know that breaking anxious
amounts to being yourself at all
There’s not enough time
to tell your parents
where it all began
but try to fleece the moon
once or twice
before you’re done.
everyone goes to bed and i am free
The black windmill on the cliff
and the yellow light from the ground
corresponds to a certain specie
of self loathing desire. A glass of
brown liquid, a girl wearing a dark
scarf, mechanical devices with nicotine.
This is Mirovian pain, cross-referenced
against the catalog of white people
who splinter and divine into night air.
The chance pendulum pardons
the ephemera of green socks to
the knees, drinking non-alcoholic
beverages well into morning. Shady
looks from the shady tress will emerge
as the new hope for science fiction
film convergence into the conscience
of pop culture decadence taken to bed.
To see the reflection allure could fall
in a pit of mattress cushions, felt
every time my dead lizard speaks
Gibran to me. Passion lips, dying,
faded, exulting a London accent that grew
up on King Street to find that everything
really is flat. The nearest nuance of
Merleau-Ponty aesthetics: a soiled taupe
washcloth on a laundry line like a book
of Geometry or condensed Voltaire scriblings.
I can hear Trent Reznor telling me everything
will be okay as long as sentiment can
be left at the door for the elephants to eat.
— C. S. Lewis, from “Poetry,” in An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 1961)
— Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Picador, 1999 (via literarymiscellany)
What goes in the unwrapping space
of Monday, only codes know the difference.
Five single beds, men complaining
about the cleanliness of female longing,
the dirt that drags their humanity
through ditch to ditch as to find
the middle road in brief. I’ve recovered
a few sprigs of grass thus far, just
enough to see a mirror as just a mirror
or smile at strangers out of love, not
fear. Who knows how we will eat
this week’s rotting peaches,
recalled for listeria and sadness,
but something will happen. The air
protrudes from each of your backs
in a wave, arching up toward birds.
I have pain, I have pain, I have something.
The gesticulal passing of new ideas,
beyond the scoped thinking that pursues
blank space upon blank space upon blank
looks from the trees. Through a black gutter,
overcoming your humanity looks to be
the only smart move worth taking today.
New dawn comes like this sludge
of love. Each morning this bed is
remembering who is was that slept
there the night before, where these
sheets got so neat. The withdrawal
of the guilty plea, joy to watch people
cry with that look. Your white dress
makes the world echo and then
I remember that this, the folding of
fabric, is a passion play for us.
There is the image of a solitary
figure climbing the hill of Golgotha
where red sand gathers in anger and
in the distance, on another mount,
there are three steel washing machines
with windows, the first and last filled of
whites, the middle black, turning interminably.
Chipless remembrances, what fatigue
wrapped in the purple dotted colonnade
and creates the proper feeling: minuscule
insects rummaging the bathtub drain.
I want to be pretty, too, doesn’t everyone
see? I raise my first and see it is pale
and covered in sweat from a thousand
years of waiting to transform into
the marigold smelling dryer sheet
to place into an old man’s memory of
what it was like to hang it all out to dry
and watch as light descends as a happy
nothingness recalling the faced beginning.
What seems important now
that there’s live kittens in
the backyard, finding a grip
on ubiquity. The nine steps
before food service seem like
winter, each meeting a gathering
of weak pants explaining how
to make cracks in the glass.
Derisive, derisive. The falling
backwards has begun to thrive
in psychiatry appointments!
The meeting of needs will
become the new day’s transgression,
the bread distribution by
little orange vested twins!
How can we stop the darkly
saddened boulder a priori
notewise and calm the small
animals who cannot pronounce
their own little names?
Intersection of Church St. and
East Ponce: the reunion of
suffering effigies to elementary
school slights. Memorial Drive
and Moreland: small hotel rooms
for the hour long moment and
a white building for thirsty
revenge. North Avenue and
Spring St.: home of the human
warbling shall cease! I must
go to court later, I shall wear
a bright smile and say all my
words twice before grinding these
little mice in my heart to dust.