—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)