John Ashbery

A November

The spoon went in
just right,
stirred the coffee,
was removed and lay
on the saucer, silent.

The lost library
books fantasized
about where they’d end up,
realizing they already had.

I don’t understand anything
he says, my friend
who comes over.
When he says delighted
I am just
as sure
he means weighted down
with affliction
or affection.

He can’t have been bothered
by next year’s list of things,
places left unplanted.
The government went in.
That’s why there isn’t room.


Like a Photograph

You might like to live in one of these smallish
houses that start to climb a hill, then fumble
back to the beginning as though nothing had happened.

You might enjoy a dinner of sandwiches
with the neighbor who makes concessions.
It will be all over in a minute, you said. We both
believed that, and the clock’s ticking: flame on, flame on.