Jay Barnica

Issue 19

An Ashbery Cento

It was during the week we talked about deforestation.
We gathered the threads into an equation,
a gay avalanche destroyed much of the town.
We could see it coming from forever,
but should we? Should we all? Perhaps we should.

Which reminds me that I dreamed I was walking
the other time, before the messenger came to your door
and in October, lots of weather, much of it cruder.
We mustn’t draw many conclusions from that, only
we can’t mask the anxiety for long.

I guess what I’m saying is
nothing unusual happened. Soon we were leaving home
in the medium-sized city of my awareness.
We kept on living because we knew how,
but why talk of housebreaking on a night like this?

As for the father, well, he’ll become hybrid, like most of us,
signing the night’s emeralds away,
while our time on the planet ambiguously finishes.
The beginning of the middle is like that,
which brings me to my original argument:

the first year was like icing;
those who came closest did not come close;
halving and having a new thing are the same;
the truth is always a bit further on, and sits there;
the narrative got punctured.

Don’t try this at home. On second thought, come in,
whatever stops playing is the enemy of the incomplete.
In all my years as a pedestrian
that was never an issue.
Fast forward to the beginning of your Christmas present.

Source & Method

“An Ashbery Cento” is comprised of discrete lines from poems in the following collections by John Ashbery: Quick Question, Breezeway, Where Shall I Wander, A Worldly Country, Chinese Whispers, and A Wave.

Jay Barnica is a professional writing tutor and freshman composition professor in Pennsylvania. He finds poetry everywhere.

Photo by Barry Duncan on Unsplash