Passing the Frontier

Translated by John Ashbery
The yellow line could be seen for as long a time
As the highway desired
And if you fell asleep at the wheel
It fulgurated in the dozing soul
Like a brutal revelation
That allows you not to feel
In the dream’s snapshot
Your brain getting smashed
Against the milestone or the windshield   
It was an ideal line
Crowned with horizontal blue
That unwound day after day
Like a clothesline
Flags and scalps and washed-out roses
Our countries our combats our wars
Mingling lassitude with involuntary starts
A gymnastic in disorder
That sickened our hearts

“Passing the Frontier” from The Landscapist: Selected Poems by Pierre Martory, translated by John Ashbery. English translation copyright 1961, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 by John Ashbery. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of John Ashbery. All rights reserved.
Source: The Landscapist (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2008)
More Poems by Pierre Martory