Mind Boggled


To celebrate the waning days of summer, and the announcement that MTV has elected John Ashbery as its first poet laureate, I give you this poem:

Popular Songs
by John Ashbery

He continued to consult her for her beauty
(The host gone to a longing grave).
The story then resumed in day coaches
Both bravely eyed the finer dust on the blue. That summer
(“The worst ever”) she stayed in the car with the cur.
That was something between her legs.
Alton had been getting letters from his mother
About the payments — half the flood
Over and what about the net rest of the year?
Who cares? Anyway (you know how thirsty they were)
The extra worry began it — on the
Blue blue mountain — she never set foot
And then and there. Meanwhile the host
Mourned her quiet tenure. They all stayed chatting.
No one did much about eating.
The tears came and stopped, came and stopped, until
Becoming the guano-lightened summer night landscape,
All one glow, one mild laugh lasting ages.
Some precision, he fumed into his soup.

You laugh. There is no peace in the fountain.
The footmen smile and shift. The mountain
Rises nightly to disappointed stands
Dining in “The Gardens of the Moon.”
There is no way to prevent this
Or the expectation of disappointment.
All are aware, some carry a secret
Better, of hands emulating deeds
Of days untrustworthy. But these may decide.
The face extended its sorrowing light
Far out over them. And now silent as a group
The actors prepare their first decline.


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