Sunday, September 23, 2007

Worsening Situation (John Ashbery)



Like a rainstorm, he said, the braided colors
Wash over me and are no help. Or like one
At a feast who eats not, for he cannot choose
From among the smoking dishes. This severed hand
Stands for life, and wander as it will,
East or west, north or south, it is ever
A stranger who walks beside me. O seasons,
Booths, chaleur, dark-hatted charlatans
On the outskirts of some rural fete,
The name you drop and never say is mine, mine!
Some day I'll claim to you how all used up
I am because of you but in the meantime the ride
Continues. Everyone is along for the ride,
It seems. Besides, what else is there?
The annual games? True, there are occasions
For white uniforms and a special language
Kept secret from the others. The limes
Are duly sliced. I know all this
But can't seem to keep it from affecting me,
Every day, all day. I've tried recreation,
Reading until late at night, train rides
And romance.

One day a man called while I was out
And left this message: "You got the whole thing wrong
From start to finish. Luckily, there's still time
To correct the situation, but you must act fast.
See me at your earliest convenience. And please
Tell no one of this. Much besides your life depends on it."
I thought nothing of it at the time. Lately
I´ve been looking at old-fashioned plaids, fingering
Starched white collars, wondering whether there’s a way
To get them really white again. My wife
Thinks I’m in Oslo- Oslo, France, that is.

13 comments:

Cold Bacon said...

is that simon le bon?

Mr. Guapo said...

Who posted this? I used to teach this poem, and I once gave a lecture on Aesthetics in contemporary poetry that involved it. It's Ashbery's best, I think.

I mean, I know who posted it, come to think of it, but, ermmmmmm...what made you post it?

sebastian ciego said...

to question number one:
have no idea who the guy is. but he seems extremely melancholic, as if he knew something

to question number two:
no particular reason (at least no other than a particular mood, something in the air, as it is said, as if the air could be permeated by sadness)
and, besides, i agree with you: a great poem, Ashbery at his best

& off the record:
sadness (when used wisely and in small dosis) is an oddly happy thing

Konstantin Brandauer said...

the guy seems Slavian to me
pretty somber

The Metrosexiest said...

Yeah, when Ashberry keeps it brief and lets the rules of his musicality possess him completely, instead of staying so artificial with them he's fantastic. But often? I find his work so labored that it lacks soul. I prefer writers of a similar mood but different lilt -- Transtromer. Strand.

The Metrosexiest said...

P.S. Where did you get the picture? Who's work?

this one said...

this reminds me of a poem by pablo neruda which i cannot remember the name of and thus, cannot find.....

"but in the meantime the ride
Continues." let's make that a bike ride, preferably at night, when i'm alone, in a short dress, down to the santa cruz river park where things get kinda scary. [scare yourself back into happiness, that's what i say]

S. Ciego said...

I agree with you about Ashbery, METROSEXIEST
STRAND wrote a marvelous poem,
The Story of Our Lives
I took the picture from the internet.
There was no reference to its author.
I find it touching.

Cold Bacon said...

i cannot believe you would just "take" a picture from the internet. for shame.

S. Ciego said...

this one,

Maybe WALKING AROUND, the one that begings (in Spanish) "Sucede que me canso de ser hombre"?
An English version

this one said...

"walking around" it is, perfect.

The Metrosexiest said...

are you guys on PoemHunter? The "social network" for poetry readers? I just signed up but not sure if it is going to be worth using it. A music-related one, MOG, was certainly not. But I *do* like myspace. (Shameless! I know.)

josh malamy said...

can't get into it. does anyone read james merrill?

 
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