Thursday, June 9, 2011

Off center in a concave return ii

   It is the lumps and trials
   That tell us whether we shall be known
   And whether our fate can be exemplary, like a star.
   All the rest is waiting
   For a letter that never arrives,
   Day after day, the exasperation
   Until finally you have ripped it open not knowing what it is,
   The envelope halves lying on a plate.
   The message was wise, and seemingly
   Dictated a long time ago.

   Its truth is timeless, but its time has still
   Not arrived, telling of danger, and the mostly limited
   Steps that can be taken against danger
   Now and in the future, in cool yards,
   In small quiet houses in the country,
   Our country, in fenced areas, in cool shady streets.

John Ashbery
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
  The One Thing That Can
  Save America, stanza iv
Viking, 1975©


  1. It has been, and will, I hope, remain, a favorite poem of mine, a book, too.

  2. I hope you are not shocked to find it so adapted here, Bruce.