‘Then there was only one: myself.’
John Ashbery, ‘The History of My Life’
Having comprehensively disposed of that chestnut,
shoved it on a skip,
I have more questions to put to you than the Socratic
in our grocer.
First, I want you to step out of those non sequiturs, comely
though they are.
Donate those loafers to the nearest indigent – with a song
in your heart.
Don’t pout. Look what it does to your profile.
the cellphone that bids you how to croon. Pronto!
where you are. We all do. We know everything about you.
to find the universe is a pertinacious listener,
Remember that summer hit, the ‘Song of Surveillance’?
We hummed along.
Mom thought it the most radical lyric since ‘Always’.
How long do we have, and who invited you anyway?
so easily spooked by all the deaths that happen on a farm.
Must we be?
Who wrote the wretched book anyway, who proofed it?
In my tome
the inscription is not even inked. Pastel dicta.
Remember that boy who cracked his head in a pond,
the shirtless one
who thrashed you at tennis, beat you repeatedly?
How you rallied.
Anyone can rhapsodise at twilight, oath or blandishment.
the lyrics towards infinity. And when we are eternised,
as the phrase goes,
as we sinners grope towards subterfuge or farce,
the patois, the plenitude of whom we are, only and ever ourselves.
Peter Rose’s latest poetry collection is The Subject of Feeling (2015).