Mean Particles

Sometimes something like a second
washes the base of this street.
The father and his two assistants
are given permission to go.
One of them, a woman, asks, “Why
did we come here in the first place,
to this citadel of dampness?”

Some days are worse than others,
even if we can’t believe in them.
But that was never a concern of mine,
reasoned the patient.

Sing, scroll, or never be blasted by us
into marmoreal meaning, or the fist for it.
Kudos to the prince who journeyed here
to negotiate our release, if you can believe it.

You’re right. The ballads are retreating
back into the atmosphere.
They won’t be coming round again.
Make your peace.

More Poems by John Ashbery