'Feel Free', a new poem by John Ashbery

Our competing lifestyles lost us the Australian double
that semester. And couldn’t we then arrange
to do the other, and was the desert that limitless,
and why not say so? You see, griping comes naturally
to me and to all mankind. Once, when shut up
at the bottom of a shaft of some kind, I
assumed that the world would just trickle naturally
around whatever feet I was wearing, and increased
morbid curiosity would result. Hold on there!
No, I meant it, plangently, like small waves rubbing
against a reef, or the sighing of mice behind a grill.
This is yours to manipulate, they said,
yours to live on. That’s only what they said.
I’m guessing that she told you the same,
and idlers copied it to their remotest constituency
and to a whole lot of other things, belike.

Published in November 2011, no. 336
John Ashbery

John Ashbery

John Ashbery (1927-2017) was one of America's leading poets. In 1976 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, in 1984 he won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for A Wave, and throughout his career John has won nearly every other major US poetry prize.

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