In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

UnderstandablyJohn Ashbery
Close
Close
Vol. 38 No. 9 · 5 May 2016
Poem

Understandably

John Ashbery

199 words

It’s beautiful, and all that:
the corner student with the carpet tunnel
or you just don’t know
where to get one
which is all that matters.
I didn’t know but what
during our recent homecoming special
very good plastic muffins were featured,
(the cement trees yesterday),

and that probably wouldn’t be a surprise.
Turn the window off.
The stars, what happens next?
Replacement issues, timid leftovers
burning in reality.

Bear with me, bears.
The radar committee (woman in bathrobe, man
in bad mood) backed down. The chosen honorees arose
or are you going up? I don’t sit with smaller operations.

The ant farm, tossed on frozen seas –
didn’t they have an old pin-up of yours?
The hairnet (stay away) protects my great big head.
In your smart capacity summon the ambassador.
And the infection? It grew.
In 1951 I really, really am, little chum.
Sorry about the vegetables. Stones’ll be pretty with that.

What do you want, John? Informally, a
new body, and an assistant.
I’ll bet the place is swarming with printers.
I wrote them yesterday. Really reached out,
plugnutty. Like the noiseless farts of antiquity
squeamishness is best, yet still.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences