• Email
  • Print

Two Poems by John Ashbery

MY EROTIC DOUBLE

He says he doesn’t feel like working today.
It’s just as well. Here in the shade
Behind the house, protected from street noises,
One can go over all kinds of old feeling,
Throw some away, keep others.
The word-play
Between us gets very intense when there are
Fewer feelings around to confuse things.
Another go-round? No, but the last things
You always find to say are charming, and rescue me
Before the night does. We are afloat
On our dreams as on a barge made of ice,
Shot through with questions and fissures of starlight
That keep us awake, thinking about the dreams
As they are happening. Some occurrence. You said it.

I said it but I can hide it. But I choose not to.
Thank you. You are a very pleasant person.
Thank you. You are too.

HISTOIRE UNIVERSELLE

As though founded by some weird religious sect
It is a paper disk, partially lit up from behind
With testaments to its cragginess, many of them
Illegible, covering most of its surface. In the hours
Between midnight and 4 AM it assumes a fitful
But calm sedentary existence, and it is then that
You may reach in and take out a name, any name,
And it will be your own, at least while
The walls of Bill’s villa resonate with the intermittent,
Migraine-like drone of motorized gondolas and the distant
Murmur of cats. To be treated, at times like these,
To free speech is an aspect of the dream and of Dreamland
In general that asserts an even larger
View of the universe pinned on the midnight-blue
Backcloth of the universe that can’t understand
Who all these people are, and about what
So much fuss is being made; it ignores its own entrails
And we love it even more for it until we too
Are parted like curtains across the empty stage of its memory.

The house was for living in,
So much was sure. But when the ways split
And we saw out over what was after all
Water and dawn, and prayed to the rocks
Overhead, and no answer was forthcoming,
It was then that the cosmic relaxer released us.
We were together on such a day. You, oddly
But becomingly dressed, pointed out that that
Day is today, the moral. All that.

  • Email
  • Print