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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

John Ashbery - Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse

We were warned about spiders, and the occasional famine.
We drove downtown to see our neighbors. None of them were home.
We nestled in yards the municipality had created,
reminisced about other, different places—
but were they? Hadn’t we known it all before?
In vineyards where the bee’s hymn drowns the monotony,
we slept for peace, joining in the great run.
He came up to me.
It was all as it had been,
except for the weight of the present,
that scuttled the pact we made with heaven.
In truth there was no cause for rejoicing,
nor need to turn around, either.
We were lost just by standing,
listening to the hum of wires overhead.
We mourned that meritocracy which, wildly vibrant,
had kept food on the table and milk in the glass.
In skid-row, slapdash style
we walked back to the original rock crystal he had become,
all concern, all fears for us.
We went down gently
to the bottom-most step. There you can grieve and breathe,
rinse your possessions in the chilly spring.
Only beware the bears and wolves that frequent it
and the shadow that comes when you expect dawn.

John Ashbery - But What Is the Reader to Make of This?

A lake of pain, an absence
Leading to a flowering sea? Give it a quarter-turn
And watch the centuries begin to collapse
Through each other, like floors in a burning building,
Until we get to this afternoon:

Those delicious few words spread around like jam
Don't matter, nor does the shadow.
We have lived blasphemously in history
And nothing has hurt us or can.
But beware of the monstrous tenderness, for out of it
The same blunt archives loom. Facts seize hold of the web
And leave it ash. Still, it is the personal,
Interior life that gives us something to think about.
The rest is only drama.

Meanwhile the combinations of every extendable circumstance
In our lives continue to blow against it like new leaves
At the edge of a forest a battle rages in and out of
For a whole day. It's not the background, we're the background,
On the outside looking out. The surprises history has
For us are nothing compared to the shock we get
From each other, though time still wears
The colors of meanness and melancholy, and the general life
Is still many sizes too big, yet
Has style, woven of things that never happened
With those that did, so that a mood survives
Where life and death never could. Make it sweet again!

John Ashbery - They Knew What They Wanted

They all kissed the bride.
They all laughed.
They came from beyond space.
They came by night.

They came to a city.
They came to blow up America.
They came to rob Las Vegas.
They dare not love.

They died with their boots on.
They shoot horses, don’t they?
They go boom.
They got me covered.

They flew alone.
They gave him a gun.
They just had to get married.
They live. They loved life.

They live by night.
They drive by night.
They knew Mr Knight.
They were expendable.

They met in Argentina.
They met in Bombay.
They met in the dark.
They might be giants.

They made me a fugitive.
They made me a criminal.
They only kill their masters.
They shall have music.

They were sisters.
They still call me Bruce.
They won’t believe me.
They won’t forget.

John Ashbery - Passive/Aggressive

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.

John Ashbery - Homecoming

Weather drips quietly through the skeins
in my diary. What surly elision is this?


Who faxed the folks news of my homecoming,
even unto the platform number? The majestic parlor car
slides neatly into its berth, the doors fly open,
and it’s Jean and Marcy and all the kids, waving pink plastic pinwheels,
chomping on popcorn. Ngarrrh. You know I adore ceremony,
even while refusing to stand on it, but this, this is too inane.
And the cold anonymity of the station takes over,
reins in the crowds that were sifting to the furthest exits. No one is here.
Now I know why I’ve always hated the tango, yet loved the intimacy
secreted in its curls. And for this to continue, we’ve got to
get together, renew old saws, let old grudges ride...


Later I’m posting this to you.
I just thought of you, you see, as indeed I do
several million times a day. I need your disapproval,
can’t live without your churlish ways.

John Ashbery - How To Continue

Oh there once was a woman

and she kept a shop

selling trinkets to tourists

not far from a dock

who came to see what life could be

far back on the island.


And it was always a party there

always different but very nice

New friends to give you advice

or fall in love with you which is nice

and each grew so perfectly from the other

it was a marvel of poetry

and irony


And in this unsafe quarter

much was scary and dirty

but no one seemed to mind

very much

the parties went on from house to house

There were friends and lovers galore

all around the store

There was moonshine in winter

and starshine in summer

and everybody was happy to have discovered

what they discovered


And then one day the ship sailed away

There were no more dreamers just sleepers

in heavy attitudes on the dock

moving as if they knew how

among the trinkets and the souvenirs

the random shops of modern furniture

and a gale came and said

it is time to take all of you away

from the tops of the trees to the little houses

on little paths so startled


And when it became time to go

they none of them would leave without the other

for they said we are all one here

and if one of us goes the other will not go

and the wind whispered it to the stars

the people all got up to go

and looked back on love

John Ashbery - At North Farm

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?


Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

John Ashbery - Like a Sentence

How little we know,   

and when we know it!


It was prettily said that “No man

hath an abundance of cows on the plain, nor shards

in his cupboard.” Wait! I think I know who said that! It was . . .


Never mind, dears, the afternoon

will fold you up, along with preoccupations   

that now seem so important, until only a child   

running around on a unicycle occupies center stage.   

Then what will you make of walls? And I fear you   

will have to come up with something,


be it a terraced gambit above the sea

or gossip overheard in the marketplace.

For you see, it becomes you to be chastened:

for the old to envy the young,

and for youth to fear not getting older,

where the paths through the elms, the carnivals, begin.


And it was said of Gyges that his ring

attracted those who saw him not,

just as those who wandered through him were aware

only of a certain stillness, such as precedes an earache,

while lumberjacks in headbands came down to see what all the fuss was about,

whether it was something they could be part of

sans affront to self-esteem.

And those temple hyenas who had seen enough,

nostrils aflare, fur backing up in the breeze,

were no place you could count on,

having taken a proverbial powder

as rifle butts received another notch.

I, meanwhile . . . I was going to say I had squandered spring   

when summer came along and took it from me   

like a terrier a lady has asked one to hold for a moment

while she adjusts her stocking in the mirror of a weighing machine.   

But here it is winter, and wrong

to speak of other seasons as though they exist.   

Time has only an agenda

in the wallet at his back, while we

who think we know where we are going unfazed

end up in brilliant woods, nourished more than we can know

by the unexpectedness of ice and stars

and crackling tears. We’ll just have to make a go of it,

a run for it. And should the smell of baking cookies appease

one or the other of the olfactory senses, climb down   

into this wagonload of prisoners.


The meter will be screamingly clear then,

the rhythms unbounced, for though we came

to life as to a school, we must leave it without graduating   

even as an ominous wind puffs out the sails

of proud feluccas who don’t know where they’re headed,   

only that a motion is etched there, shaking to be free.

John Ashbery - Spring Day

The immense hope, and forbearance
Trailing out of night, to sidewalks of the day
Like air breathed into a paper city, exhaled
As night returns bringing doubts
That swarm around the sleeper’s head
But are fended off with clubs and knives, so that morning
Installs again in cold hope
The air that was yesterday, is what you are,
In so many phases the head slips form the hand.
The tears ride freely, laughs or sobs:
What do they matter? There is free giving and taking;
The giant body relaxed as though beside a stream
Wakens to the force of it and has to recognize
The secret sweetness before it turns into life—
Sucked out of many exchanges, torn from the womb,
Disinterred before completely dead—and heaves
Its mountain-broad chest. “They were long in coming,
Those others, and mattered so little that it slowed them
To almost nothing. They were presumed dead,
Their names honorably grafted on the landscape
To be a memory to me. Until today
We have been living in their shell.
Now we break forth like a river breaking through a dam,
Pausing over the puzzled, frightened plain,
And our further progress shall be terrible,
Turning fresh knives in the wounds
In the gulf of recreation, that bare canvas
As matter-of-fact as the traffic and that day’s noise.”
The mountain stopped shaking; its body
Arched into its own contradiction, its enjoyment,
As far from us lights were put out, memories of boys and girls
Who walked here before the great change,
Before the air mirrored us,
Taking the opposite shape of our effort,
Its inseparable comment and corollary
But casting us further and further out.
Wha—what happened? You are with
The orange tree, so that its summer produce
Can go back to where we got it wrong, then drip gently
Into history, if it wants to. A page turned; we were
Just now floundering in the wind of its colossal death.
And whether it is Thursday, or the day is stormy,
With thunder and rain, or the birds attack each other,
We have rolled into another dream.
No use charging the barriers of that other:
It no longer exists. But you,
Gracious and growing thing, with those leaves like stars,
We shall soon give all out attention to you.

John Ashbery - Evening in the Country

I am still completely happy.
My resolve to win further I have
Thrown out, and am charged by the thrill
Of the sun coming up. Birds and trees, houses,
These are but the stations for the new sign of being
In me that is to close late, long
After the sun has set and darkness come
To the surrounding fields and hills.
But if breath could kill, then there would not be
Such an easy time of it, with men locked back there
In the smokestacks and corruption of the city.
Now as my questioning but admiring gaze expands
To magnificent outposts, I am not so much at home
With these memorabilia of vision as on a tour
Of my remotest properties, and the eidolon
Sinks into the effective "being" of each thing,
Stump or shrub, and they carry me inside
On motionless explorations of how dense a thing can be,
How light, and these are finished before they have begun
Leaving me refreshed and somehow younger.
Night has deployed rather awesome forces
Against this state of affairs: ten thousand helmeted footsoldiers,
A Spanish armada stretching to the horizon, all
Absolutely motionless until the hour to strike
But I think there is not too much to be said or be done
And that these things eventually take care of themselves
With rest and fresh air and the outdoors, and a good view of things.
So we might pass over this to the real
Subject of our concern, and that is
Have you begun to be in the context you feel


Now that the danger has been removed?
Light falls on your shoulders, as is its way,
And the process of purification continues happily,
Unimpeded, but has the motion started
That is to quiver your head, send anxious beams
Into the dusty corners of the rooms
Eventually shoot out over the landscape
In stars and bursts? For other than this we know nothing
And space is a coffin, and the sky will put out the light.
I see you eager in your wishing it the way
We may join it, if it passes close enough:
This sets the seal of distinction on the success or failure of your attempt.
There is growing in that knowledge
We may perhaps remain here, cautious yet free
On the edge, as it rolls its unblinking chariot
Into the vast open, the incredible violence and yielding
Turmoil that is to be our route.