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Just as the day could use another hour,
I need another idea. Not a concept
or a slogan. Something more like a rut
made thousands of years ago by one of the first
wheels as it rolled along. It never came back
to see what it had done, and the rut
just stayed there, not thinking of itself
or calling attention to itself in any way.
Sun baked it. Water stood, or rather sat
in it. Wind covered it with dust, then blew it
away. Always it was available to itself
when it wished to be, which wasn't often.
Then there was a cup and ball theory
I told you about. A lot of people had left the coast.
Squirt conditions obtained. I forgot I overwhelmed you
once upon a time, between everybody's sound sleep
and waking afterward, trying to piece together
what had happened. The rut glimmered
through centuries of snow and after.
I suppose it was trying to make some point
but we never found out about that,
having come to know each other years later
when our interest in zoning had revived again.
John Ashbery is the author of more than twenty books of poetry. his many awards include a Pulitzer Prize and, in 2012, a National Humanities Medal presented by President Obama at the White House.
“Ashbery helms a keen awareness of himself throughout...If he’s repetitive, it’s in the way that a beach is repetitive with sand, or the night sky is repetitive with stars.”
” [Ashbery’s] productivity has done nothing to diminish his legendary inscrutability, not sap his notorious zest for playing havoc with nearly every convention and fixed idea about poetry under the sun.”
“Deeply pleasurable...Ashbery still has his ear to the ground, he’s still listening, and the results are fun, funny, often wise, sometimes brilliant...”