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wFriday, April 13, 2007


I Remember John Ashbery

I remember being introduced to John Ashbery for the twelfth time.
I remember how dazzling the light was on the campari soda
As the partygoers milled around and watched each other tilt slightly
Making unwarranted assumptions about how entitled each was.
I remember wondering whether Sodus was the singular of soda.
I remember finishing "The Skaters" and thinking, "Oh yeah?"
I remember trying to write several pages of French prose
To translate into American poetry, then being somewhat disappointed
At the exchange rate listed in the paper that day.
I remember my befuddlement at the news you could live somewhere
On a newspaper art critic's salary. I remember thinking,
Maybe if I write dazzlingly Audenesque poems for a few years
I can live on into an era that can't forget Auden fast enough.
Then I remember thinking, if I can just write one or two things
I could call dazzling if I scrunch my face up like Kukla Fran and Ollie...
I remember Bob and Ray. I remember Jess, and R.B. Kitaj.
I remember the Bibliography produced by David Kermani.
I remember the MA thesis on Henry Green. I remember finding it
In the Columbia library and making a photocopy. I remember
Consuming Concluding in a hazy rush and wishing
My parents had factories to leave me. I remember Joel Lewis
Saying all other New York poets were suburban compared
To John Ashbery. I remember the entry fees for the Yale Younger Poets.
I remember the thrill of the proper name, the gazetteer,
The possibility that Margaret Atwood had written good poems.
I remember "If we can figure out how these poems work
We can solve any medical crisis that ever comes along!"
I remember "he never gives interviews." I remember
A massive collection of interviews. I remember the names
Of his least vertebrate imitators. I remember the names
Of his most comprehending appreciators. Mainly, though,
I remember how it sure was nice to spend a day in the country.

[This poem sponsored in part by a grant from a donor in Boston.]

posted by Jordan #