by John Ashbery
What the bad news was
became apparent too late
for us to do anything good about it.
I was offered no urgent dreaming,
didn’t need a name or anything.
Everything was taken care of.
In the medium-size city of my awareness
voles are building colossi.
The blue room is over there.
He put out no feelers.
The day was all as one to him.
Some days he never leaves his room
and those are the best days,
There were morose gardens farther down the slope,
anthills that looked like they belonged there.
The sausages were undercooked,
the wine too cold, the bread molten.
Who said to bring sweaters?
The climate’s not that dependable.
The Atlantic crawled slowly to the left
pinning a message on the unbound golden hair of sleeping maidens,
a ruse for next time,
where fire and water are rampant in the streets,
the gate closed—no visitors today
or any evident heartbeat.
I got rid of the book of fairy tales,
pawned my old car, bought a ticket to the funhouse,
found myself back here at six o’clock,
pondering “possible side effects.”
There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.