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Monday, September 25, 2017

Late Ashbery

It is known that Ashbery didn't revise much, instead preferring to write many poems and throwing out  those that didn't match up to his standards. Here's one of the uncollected poems of Ashbery, that I found once written on a napkin in a New York City restaurant shortly after he had dined there. I can't prove that he wrote it, but I'll offer it to you anyway, just to set the record straight. It certainly is not one he would have wanted to save:    


Roses are red, and that disquiet among the almond leaves
like antique shelves, told you the gig was up. Meantime
Elmer sold his last possessions, you know the type, always
looking for an angle of repose among angelic figurines.
He didn't dig it, he said. That was that. I on the other hand
foreign to that lexicon and the start-ups it implied, could
not finish anyone else's sentences, much less my own.

You think it's easy being this uptight. Singing for my supper was ok
as long as this was understood as a lame excuse for a metaphor
but what then? More derivative gargling in the movie set saloon?
Hot cakes? Merchandise returns? In the routine
rambling there is a certain snapping point, one you'd
have to be a fool not to improvise on your own while
unseen forces move into position, just before the fall.

Après moi...  But how did this end, really? Not like this
surely, as afternoon gathered its forces amid crumbling icons.
We turned the page, and there was nothing written there.
But the expected result turned up anyway, as though
they had forgotten to cancel the newspaper for their trip,
and the seedy music died down once again, but not for good.

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