* in the trees with John Ashbery & new work

After many walks in the snow the body learns a new rhythm. At least that’s what it’s felt like these past few weeks. I’ve got myself a mean snow trudge.

What I admire about John Ashbery is the way he can keep his line close to the shifts of not his mind but the mind of the poem. In the poem below, whose rhyming couplets have a music that sneaks up on you rather than chimes on in, I feel a recognition of what is termed “puzzling light.”

Not the kind of light that leaves you puzzled (past tense) but a sense of light as vision, where you look at something and keep seeing new things in it, puzzling out what there is.

Like steps in deep snow: each a different mark and feel.

* and miles to go and all that *
* and miles to go and all that *

Some Trees – John Ashbery

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.


Happy accenting!


p.s. I am happy to announce that I have 3 poems in the latest issue of the Inflectionist Review. Check them out here. Special thanks to John Sibley Williams and A. Molotkov for giving these poems a home.

4 responses to “* in the trees with John Ashbery & new work”

  1. Lovely introduction to this poem! I went walking in Canada last year and totally know what you mean about snow and the ‘trudge’.

    1. I’m glad you’re into it. There came a point in my trudging earlier this week where I stopped, caught my breath and let my body settle for a moment. I think that’s what I mean by what I feel in the phrase “puzzling light.” Thanks for reading!

  2. Enjoyed the post, and also the poems — “Argument Rooms” and “Paper Clouds” are both outstanding poems, ones I wish I’d written!

    1. Thank you for your kind words!

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