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The Spacious Firmament

Say that this is a street therefore people walk down it.
I stand holding a bunch of keys,
burn up my motto, read Kleist in November.
Could it be that I cannibalize others' lives,
the lives of others' words?
Or am I simply going back to where I came from,
not too long ago, to excuse whoever took my place
when I was gone? Sudden indecision,
the dear reddish flowers -- I am all about a comma in space.
I neither go nor return unfazed.
In short I am in this comedy you wrote for me to star in.

Yes she waits, time out, time in,
for me to get the wail, whale of a wail, off my chest.
Yes the coddling circuits
that baited
the time giveaway
are standing all over me too like foxglove angels,
drawing in their breath, giving us what we bargained for--
no crossing, chumps at the end of the market
where needle soldiers ferreted us out,
wished us well, taking a piss at a private hall about
a mile down the road,
coming in during the week.
They had put their kilts on first.
Pull you out of my wool,
toiling as the will
bends us to ends and now is no more.

That force going under,
it kind of makes it stand out
and for me too the trees in this room
we bide our time in, happy as in a nursery,
till the times dictate otherwise. Oh, he was a grown man,
scrofulous it's true, but neither piebald nor land-proud.
A great equator did him in, the fullness of time
waited at the end of my hall, cobbled quodlibets,
procession toward a context. Capitalist
actions forced it into a runoff.
Model villages provide all sorts of
plumbing. Cherry blossoms cascade
in spring, don't last long.
I think we shall be moving to
the dance baths on the river, river that is ripe,
right for explication, as you do plaster it with the wasps
just coming into being, no names yet.
Twenty years ago my dance professor
reinterpreted it, we'll have it on the ground soon
he said coming back, my hand blotted with crystals, your breath calls.
No, something to lug up behind the office at noon.

--John Ashbery


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