El Dorado

By John Ashbery b. 1927 John Ashbery
We have a friend in common, the retired sophomore.   
His concern: that I shall get it like that,   
in the right and righter of a green bush   
chomping on future considerations. In the ghostly   
dreams of others it appears I am all right,   
and even going on tomorrow there is much   
to be said on all these matters, “issues,” like   
“No rest for the weary.” (And yet—why not?)   
Feeling under orders is a way of showing up,   
but stepping on Earth—she’s not going to.   
Ten shades of pleasing himself brings us to tomorrow   
evening and will be back for more. I disagree   
with you completely but couldn’t be prouder   
and fonder of you. So drink up. Feel good for two.   

I do it in a lot of places. Subfusc El Dorado   
is only one that I know something about.   
Others are recently lost cities   
where we used to live—they keep the names   
we knew, sometimes. I do it in a lot of places.   
Brash brats offer laughing advice,   
as though anything I cared about could be difficult   
or complicated now. That’s the rub. Gusts of up   
to forty-five miles an hour will be dropping in later   
on tonight. No reason not to. So point at the luck   
we know about. Living is a meatloaf sandwich.   
I had a good time up there.

Source: Poetry (March 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2009
 John  Ashbery


John Ashbery is recognized as one of the greatest twentieth-century American poets. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. Ashbery's poetry challenges its readers to discard all presumptions about the aims, themes, . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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