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Passive/AggressiveJohn Ashbery
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Vol. 38 No. 2 · 21 January 2016
Poem

Passive/Aggressive

John Ashbery

291 words

We were driving along
at twenty-five miles an hour.
‘Desperate’ wants to know
how the angle tree has went. Or we now
can live over a wombat factory,
said the woman coming in to see him
about something.

And I was like,
a beautiful little tree, or lake.
Just the sandwiches now,
we’ll look at the rest later
when you’re out of time …
Oh yeah? Oh, yeah. That’s it.
The water has swirled away to a
secret hiding place deep within earth.

Timid thing
out hitting the sun,
get me some peas … You’re going tomorrow,
ribald headache misjudged, gray drunkard.
Lost vagrants unfold scrolls of pity.
I don’t care how big his cock is, I’d … Oh, hullo, Marge.
Shredded any cumulus yesterday?
A sinister joy overtakes us.
Everybody has a body, that’s why they’re called everybody.
The affluent strapped to an accordion,
just as crazy in Baltimore and Point Reyes.
Something I don’t remember eating:
the Mother Hubbard ship.
You seemed to be going good down there.

The very tegument strained, shuddering,
causing it to wobble: more dribs
than drabs, what summer
is supposedly about, more fluid, even.
He had spelling issues
but most of all, loved the country,
demented servitor, and what that person wants,
and what that person wanted.

What others said, as some went about their business,
isn’t known.
Growing along the ridge, the condition of his parade
can’t know.
Roger, sir, she meant it for only a little while. ROGER.
And when the ducks came squawking
back, one by one, you felt it was your responsibility.
The floral canopy dragged reproachfully, or so it seemed.
When lunch arrived you filled up on tea and goat cheese.

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