Friday, 14 November 2014

Far Harbor

—after John Ashbery

On the out the dickens we didn’t try your recipe
to hold up the touted soufflé and make amends,

all but the gas oven standing its ground.

The ball park closes its eye to the sky and players
pray and swing their ballasts to packed applause.

A happy couple drifts closer, all the borrowed notes

and time being with you and that is enough.
The body shifts in all this, gradually the world turns

around on it, so we are bystanders standing up

to towering spiders and bury our things with us
in the crawl space where the narrative give way

to panic, the calm voice of reason then reassuring

despite the atonal motifs and turn of slashed signatures
the fingering on scales confines us to our favorite keys.

(Nov. 14, 2014)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Northeast Building

—after John Ashbery

Things are rough, I know, I said taking you out
had no strings attached, but it’s not often I see you
and wasn’t it you who whispered a smile
is a precious thing to waste?
So here the modus operandi greets us in a row
as you say it should, though not your cup of tea nor mine,
a punishment, like Greyhound (for lack of trains)
all part of your rollover-to-live-to-see-another-day plan
gone on umpteen years. I guess it might seem better
as the world closes in, stiffens, and at least
you dropped in from the sixth
and I borrowed your light nine to sink a birdie.
Who said I raised my voice? Sheesh, it wasn’t even your turn
just a penny opera, no mute scream could
breakdown the onslaught of Mack the Knife.
All in good fun even you say
like daffy-go-Bucky all top-down, robes flowing open
quite the monsieur de la maison, newspaper ruffled
and plop, a robin dives outside and audiences pirouette
on their bums to hear the upshot, pas du tout. Double sheesh.
So tell yourself we’re on the up and up
and the hologlobe spinning under our fingers will come around
to a lost island in the Pacific slowly sinking,
but no need to send in the llamas—
we’ve seen what that does. Try steering clear
of what makes you unhappy without letting it down.
See you when flights resume.

(Nov. 10, 2014)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Feel Free

 —after John Ashbery

While you tinkered with that watch that keeps on
acting up, keeps you up (and wouldn’t wake you up)
the rest of us trekked with the captain for tacos
from the back of a truck. A ribbed false sunset
flat at sea met us from the distance,
the mouth of the city breaking cloud cover
clearing around blocks of transport ships,
splotches under the radar a joke
planted in bystanders. Who’s a taker?
Heroes fold, triangles for a better day.
“Daddy, don’t dance that way” starts it.

The fullness of the world settles in, you say,
scanning places to take place beside us
thus tightening in us, overworked to
sort the mad rush, what what and no boy
wonder rushing in from the other side of the city
to free us. Since you dialed in telling us not to bother
leaves fall out of season as they will. We’re nowhere now
and, it would seem, the future—sending notice

for the tête-à-tête in Copenhagen, more sunflowers.

(Nov. 7, 2014)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cross Island

—after John Ashbery

When the lift stopped and they sent notice you
stepped over sleeping vagrants in the stairwell on your way out.
Time held still in its museum you constructed
from hearsay, happy voices, no one in control
the beauty of democracy without the parade of life
you said and closed Shelley, turned to the tap a shoulder
rolling over in bed (before the water shortage)
like a lost Apollo mission.
     We joked about who had the gumption
to talk to her. All the blokes held back, shadows of what we sought.
A fine mess, indeed. Don’t blame the messenger but do listen long enough

as we touched down elsewhere again, sons of immigrants
fathering immigrants, “my generation” a rolling spectacle.

I’d like to button down too one day, collect trinkets
bearing a conceptual oblivion that undoes them
like a new pair of glasses too high or too low.
I’m glad you are open about drawing lines in the sand
not to disturb eternity with details of the day
and can relax that no one will take you seriously.
All that is left is a restless hope in surviving time
like a lover so young and innocent who disappears in time.

(Nov. 5, 2014)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Allegations

—after John Ashbery

You stood on the sidelines laughing

as the colorful parade passed

and joked about fallen comrades saving us

from ourselves. I laughed, not a belly laugh

that covers a hollowness that contains us,

gives us our sense of being-there

but one inching and retreating as if not a laugh at all,

not hearty anyways, but helpful, so the balance can shore up

a balanced life. So touchy, how now

touching off upstate dancers with their gaudy truths

that would teach the townspeople before turning in

the hard plots need back-hoes more than a shovel of men

for backed-up situations, you find it pleasant among
the daffodils weed-whacked off the road as man becomes man
and the poetry is here, in the empty corridor alone with your ear.

It’s fun to see from above without looking up.

You’re from the first wave of peasants lying low,

taught to enjoy the collage of life’s peccadilloes

in torn cubist recumbence, letting others carry

on the joy of caring, ushering others down the same

corridor of self, reflecting our world as it is

without hope, amen, we made it this far. And we’re off.

(Nov. 4, 2014)