The After-Dinner War

The After-Dinner War

“There is in this sack a different sort of meal.”
—The Mabinogion

What it narrows down to is a market-driven fantasia
on others’ themes. You got a tender little look at it

back there where three roads cross. “Are you ticklish?” has requested

the new-fangled bundle of sleep, and who’s

to question her legitimate motives? We,

that’s who. With the sun setting and all,

we beetled in from the lost dude ranch. Aftershocks

the color of a seedpacket made it all seem alive.

Thou vehicle of remorse, apprise us,
and that quickly, of the circumstances

of our late removal. You see, it was our understanding

that choppy seas covered the planet, reined in only fitfully

by heresies that seem tame in the light of the morning after.

Once we had scratched ourselves and made a few indecent noises
it was time to get up and consult the sibyl,
who was on lunch break as usual.

Whom could we get to stand in for us?

Who will be next out of the starting gate?

John Ashbery has published more than 20 collections of poetry, including, most recently, Where Shall I Wander (Ecco/HarperCollins [US] and Carcanet [ UK ], 2005). His Selected Prose was published in 2004 by Carcanet and The University of Michigan Press . Since 1990 he has been the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York .

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John Ashbery

John Ashbery is a prolific American poet.

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