In memory of John Ashbery

We shared this planet and its
cafeterias with their whirring
noise for some 70 years rare
earths that you explained by
hiding not that either of us was
aware (although we did meet
in the 70’s and then again 20
years later whatever difference
that may make) or had we been
who would have thought it could
go on that long beyond the cherry
season with its supreme indifference.
But there were other events. Now
each year we are fewer and for you
it suddenly stops and the echoes
become another part of our dispensable
selves. So I’m not really surprised
to learn you also said it was always
November my bon mot for the
everlasting weather here.

Notes to Self

His eyes tired of inaccurate forecasts
hair flew off in all the wrong directions
but that’s what the big discussion here
is all about the birds wake and the force
of being absent resides in an idle lake with
vast plans for the improvement of its flora
for its praise and forgiveness. Our fathers
were duly impressed but still wondered
about the missing boot which stayed missing
manly but unhurried. But then when evening
finally arrived it was made clear to all who
would listen that polyphonic means the borough
of many wives. The sea had no response but
I thought when I grew up I might like to be
an alphabet or an almanac of empty lives
the way a lawless society depends heavily
on exports and the randomness of its forms.

Spoken English

Did I say doldrums when I really meant
dungeons instead? I wish I could say I was
a graphic designer living in the Everglades
or a Phantom searching for a mate or that
you are now closing the window on another
cloister. But the English language is definitely
strange. Sheep graze in flocks but geese also
migrate that way while cattle come and go
in herds but wolves in packs thieves in bands
and minnows swim in schools like nearly all
the other fish except for sharks while barbarians
wreak havoc in hordes locusts in swarms and
tourists in droves or loads like coal or hay. Little
wonder we are bewildered and wear scarfs at
night and scarf down our unloved vegetables for
dinner while scoundrels come in bunches as do
grapes and oysters spend their days asleep in
beds barely silent according to the latest research
with a troubling proclivity for interrupted dreams.

Scenes in the Country

The mowing drones the heat
is just about enough to rust
if you spell it reluctantly as
your handwriting slams into
amnesia. August half passes
in a slow procession of cobwebs
whose negligence unravels in
your hands like dust. The results
are exhausting. And that was
the music of the countryside
last year. Slippery as the first
pills of night or clouds. There
was no procès verbal.