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Inkjet on Paper

after John Ashbery

     Long term memory, which enables the priests to verify the adding machine tape, and to ensure that the roses are tranquil and emblematic of the general consensus of ideologies within their parish, is turning out to be a bit of a flop from our point of view and has left us feeling more discombobulated even than usual. The pointed steeple always points in the same direction, giving a general ambience of stability to the scene as if it were based on an indelible plan. Oh, for the days of backyard barbecues and of smoking orange leaves through a piece of straight steel pipe. But of course that's part of the problem, isn't it? We're still smoking orange leaves after a fashion, and we have not so much as been offered a bag of nachos by the hegemony that we must perforce be effected by and affect to be going along with, which, in a sense, we are. There was a time when the thought of climbing up the rusty pole from which the trapeze was suspended brought a thrill to our loins that was practically unexplainable, but perhaps we were being afforded a view of the world through lenses tinted with prepubescent physiology. Now, it being later than it was then, we can see that not only has the trapeze been removed, but that the ground below it is covered with weeds.
     And what else was there to life as we were led to expect it? Endless days standing around on street corners, monitoring each moment by the condensation of our breath on the mirrors we each held to our lips, always alert for notices from the American Lung Association that we were going to die sometime in the eighth grade? And what was the point of impaling our various orifices on the fear of nuclear warheads until our various cows came home? We wanted mail, not convictions.
     Of course they meant well, expecting quite naturally that we would be exactly like them, enjoying the circuitous flight of a one-winged butterfly on an evening otherwise filled with a dizzying armada of fireflies driven mad by the approach of a racoon in heat. We might reasonably have been indebted to them for such values as these. Indeed, we have no choice. Genetically speaking we instinctively respond to the blue potato bush by attaching a red flag to the back of our truck. In ancient times we might have held up a sign reading "We Need Ice". In the context of a photograph the situation can be explained in terms of the following analogy: the close-up of the pier at the end of the peninsula in the seventeenth frame explains not becoming-an-uncle but realizing that event's relative insignificance.
     And finally there is the picture of you on the seventeenth hole at Pebble Beach, the symmetry no longer alarming. One almost expects to see a rake in your hand, but you are not surprised to find yourself in the spotlight, glistening with suntan lotion and selecting a driver you hope will send your ball far beyond the tranquil, emblematic roses.