As spring turns to summer
out Santa Cruz way, I keep wearing
this itchy black wool sweater
saggy, all over pilled, elbows thinning
crusty with egg at the left wrist
speckled white with feathers
& dust, tiny scraps of paper
cat & human hair.
Northern California seldom warms
to straight-up T-shirt weather.
Some Junes are very cold
like the June I bought this Armani
on a morning that felt like snow
this sweater that zips & cowls
even snaps beneath my neck
& replaces the itchy black wool turtleneck
knitted by some woman
during the war for a soldier
handed somehow down to me
to wear from freshman year
until my fifties — resewn over & over
at armpits, wrist, & neck.
I have nicer zip-ups from Old Navy
a thick white soapy cotton
a soft gray wool
for wearing when I’m out
but the itchy saggy black sweater is only
for home, for a cat to curl up on
preferably with me inside.
|John Ashbery [The Poetry Foundation]|
from John Ashbery’s Chinese Whispers:
Theme Park Days
Dickhead, they called him, for his name was Dong, Tram Van Dong. Carefully, he slid open the small judas in his chest and withdrew a heart-shaped disk. It appeared to be cut from thicknesses of newspaper crudely stapled together. There was handwriting on one side, “spirit writing,” he indicated with a motion of his head. Yet it all seemed for naught, ancient stock-market quotations or chalked messages on hoardings of the last century, with plus and minus signs featured prominently. “O vos omnes,” he breathed, “blown together like milkweed on the hither shore of this embattled plain, will your feet soon mean to you what once they did? I think not. Meanwhile the tempest brays, favor is curried, the taffetas of autumn slide toward us over the frosted parapet, and this loquat heart is yours for the dividing. Sailboat of the Luxembourg! Vibrations of crisp mornings ripple ever closer, the joiner joins, the ostler ostles, the seducer seduces, nor stirs far from his crimson hammock. Delphic squibs caparison the bleak afternoon and the critics love it, eat it up, can’t get enough of it. ‘More pap! More pap!” Have a care, though, lest what I tell you here trespass beyond the booth of our conniving. Yet it will spread, as surely as an epidemic becomes the element we have chosen to live in: our old infectious experiment.”