John Ashbery - Planisphere's brevity
One of the things I’m really enjoying about John Ashbery’s new book, Planisphere, is the brevity of many of the poems, both in overall length and line length. This allows the poems to play with the idea of concision at the same time they continue to apply the breadth of tone and occurrence typical of Ashbery’s work (which is interesting also when considering the overall length of the book - 143 pages). Here are a few nice examples.
NO REASON NOT TO
Parents raising their voices and others
long to join the pilgrim’s downward trek,
if only to see nothing at the end of the gorge.
The mayor too was languid,
some kind of monsieur,
failing to grasp the humor in the kiddies’ spree.
And truth just kind of sails overhead
like a turkey vulture, on parenthetical wing,
empty as a cupboard.
Interrupt me (then)
with semi-elaborate everything,
spores left by a cloud seizure.
The block of flats will find then forget us.
NOT MY FAVORITE SHIRT
or even undershirt, zinging
on the grass. The happiest place in the world.
Why we could have tryouts then.
Those who made it got to be seen
a last time, like the fourth declension
where everything ended in u,
a relatively neglected vowel. Hats were blissful
then, the margins
a bit off.
Who will take a deeper interest
once these flowers have been gathered
and bound, perhaps for later reference?
Who will notice us then
as we were noticed once?
The fire is coming.
It says to wait.
I remember I remember
the word “shovel.”
A very young person
Was it right to remember
all the time? I am
sailing like a sheet in a play.
Others are there.
A dish of scrambled eggs
calls out of a dream.
We intuit the sill as “alarm.”
Nuthatches covet the sky’s