Three Poems by John Ashbery

BOMB 135 Spring 2016
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Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

The Gay Philosopher

You’re telling me:
chicanery, the moorhen,
the long triple happy fluid,
the orange response.
By golly that tastes good.

And to another land, more shy, in
any case more remote
nights are more reserved now.
By her coif shall she know you …
Error: a large sense of ennui,
such as apples, peaches, pears,
moved in as though to shut down the place,
inspissates, gladly, to bear right.

Dark Alibi

Saw it in some lowbrow bread-and-butter programmer—
enough excitement for one day, wondering what it was.
The question is whether or not there’s any rain
falling from those clouds.

You’re so clear here. You can’t not go through with it now,
and what topics there are! A sexy scream penetrates the
intellectual pillow fight guaranteeing further delays,
hedging. I know this! We’re not gonna pay for this!

Once a night at the safe side,
if you would well encounter it, it’s so breezy and nice.
I’ll do whatever it can,
and not do it on someone’s time,
or end up in a commercial. That said,
an unidentified rescue ship isn’t rushing up
the sleeves of one’s tennis shirt. They may be stones.
Put some of the stuff right on there.

Text Trek

If you say so, “boss,” I’ll retract my statement.
Only I wouldn’t be so radiant if I was you.
The ripple effect, strength in deterioration,
has expanded on more than a handful. 
                                                              Have a good time,
just get out of the hurricane entrance. I’ll see you
there on all fives, explains Lucy.
A face named Al remarked on the long destiny
between veils, where nobody noodles too long
anyway. Less remarked on is the mask-laden buffet.
Angels wash their faces. Lady Godiva for one.

Leave some room for the astonishingly mild
ripple-effect milkweed fence. And say, once that has
lapsed, go on a trip right now. Don’t we have to register?
A slow branch is to be beheaded. Old trash,
what somebody said half a million times,
chimes farther down in the seat.

Unhouse the birds. Make your time over there
a ribald heraldry of number-coaching animals,
better early than never. Why, I thought so.
I was right about the comet
and the cement plant fluke, subway Grandma.

John Ashbery’s most recent book of poems is Breezeway (Ecco/HarperCollins). A two-volume set of his collected translations from the French (poetry and prose) was published in 2014 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). He exhibits his collages at Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York.

John Ashbery by Adam Fitzgerald
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You are magnetic in the old way. / For Duchamp, the neutrality of objects / You stand in a room of your own design. / becomes a sort of anti-aesthetic

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PREPARE no night creature accidental enemy / encounters return to us in witch cradles, monsters by a hairsbreadth / these our works melted no / accident these fires these crashes / capitulate to what is meant by the past as a whole / melt, fall back into accomplishment the grasp of who / prepares to give the message     

Originally published in

BOMB 135, Spring 2016

Featuring interviews with Ryan Trecartin, Shezad Dawood, Sadie Benning, Wendy Ewald, Trevor Paglen, Jacob Appelbaum, Ivan Vladislavić, Álvaro Enrigue, Christopher Sorrentino, Vijay Iyer, and Yorgos Lanthimos.

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