Poem Beginning with a Line from Robert Ashley


it was an almost perfect place to be 15 years ago

If what you cared about was tumbling into pools of charm and beauty
for a few minutes,
it was an almost perfect place to be 15 years ago.
The people you needed to look at
were certain to pass by
at more or less the right moment,
money stayed low on the horizon,
phrases, musical and otherwise,
were easily shared, etc.



Later (we liked to think) there would be time to sway
between corpses in the snow
and time for philosophy debased into ironic melodies;
later: asking first and backlit screens.
I know that anyone could say something like this,
at any time, but with who knows
what kind of skewed criteria?
If what you cared about
was tumbling into pools of charm and beauty
for a few minutes,
it was an almost perfect place to be 15 years ago.
The people you needed to look at
were certain to pass by
at more or less the right moment,
money stayed low on the horizon,
phrases, musical and otherwise,
were easily shared, etc.
Now every clock confirms:
what matters are only the
sustained notes, the stamina-lucky drones
that get to modulate into
an unimaginable setting
years from the bed, bus or cafe
from where the perfect place still was the object
of conspiracies and not memories.

Photograph by Joanne Savio.

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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