the Tribe of John Ashbery and Contemporary Poetry



The Influence of Kinship Patterns upon
Perception of an Ambiguous Stimulus
Charles Bernstein

What's money worth? Not a whole lot if

You come up a few bits short & come

Away empty handed. If that was the case

What would you have to say then? At least

The motorperson knows how to blow a whistle.

At least in the winter it's not summer

(God damn mosquitoes & horseflies). What did

The Mandela say to the Mandela? BOY

HITS IGLOO. Snowed motion, i.e., frosted or

Laminated. To be such a bitter pill

& have nothing wrong. Don't laugh

It really hurted. If you put on

My shirt then what shirt am I

Going to wear? The kind of people

Wear plaid Bermuda shorts. The kind of

People that judge people who wear

Plaid Bermuda shorts. The kind of

Day this has been (I think I am

Falling into a tunnel of love but

Forget to get on). For a long time I'd

Say twirl when I meant 'spin'. Have you

Heard the one about the fly & the

Paper? The fly bottle could not found

The fly. The Mother Bear could not

Find the rest of the story. Harry has his

Troubles too but these are not interesting enough

To bear replay. "That's a very

Suspicious-looking baby." "It's hard

Not to be a baby." "But

Are there really babies or just baby-

Behavior?" -For the purpose

Of your request I'm including this

Sentence about the influence of John

Ashbery. While the packet

Boat sunk I can still imagine I am

Crawling into it; at the same time the ice

Is too thin to

Pretend to fall through.

Meanwhile, the water is wetter in the

Rich man's pond but doesn't taste

As good. -Hey wait a minute!

That's a bit too close, try to stay

Back at least 10 inches. So what

If the margins don't

Turn out right? Whadda you mean you're

Going to the next poem? This is the best

Part! Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I misunderstood

You. -But nobody seems to want to hear

About the pain we men feel

Having our prerogatives questioned.

A bunch of darn-dash pragmatists

With justice on their side (for all

The good that will do them). Don't

Frame me or I'll bust you in the

Doldrums. -Now let's

Switch the subject & try to find

Out what's on your mind. Voyage of life

Getting you down? Felt better when things

Were really rocky & now there's smooth

Sailing but it's lost its meaning? I'm a

Good listener & only mildly demanding:

There's just the one-time fee (mostly

For paper & printing & distribution

Costs) & unlimited returns. I'm bubbling over

With empathy & good advice & I'm not

Afraid to tell you where I think you've

Gone wrong. Let's face it-

From the word go you've

Resented me-resented my being finished

In the face of your-what?-continuing

On? But I don't mean to be complete

If that makes you feel distant; still

As I say, I

Do want some distance. She was a

Sort of Betsy Ross figure but without the

Accoutrements-no washer/dryer, just the one

TV. I said to her-What can you expect

From a poem?-evidently a lot less than

She did. A poem bleeds

Metaphorically, just like I do. I can

No more breathe than face

The music. But if the first

Banana smells a rat look out for

Lost leader (tossed reader). -"I

Don't think I'm ever

Going home." -1 don't think

I've ever been home. We are looking for

Cheerful, enthusiastic self-starters

With solid backgrounds in detailed

Wails. The point

Not to change history but to change

Events. For instance, you

Can change in the car, change on the

Beach, or use a changing room

At the beach. Don't change me

& I won't change a hair on your

Chinny chin chin. Or let me

Put it this way: You can call

Me anything you want to but give me

The right change. That's right: I

Haven't changed, you have. It's

Not the time it's the beer. I'm in

A rush, don't forget to send a

Check. Not a con

just a dodge. Not a dodge a Lincoln-

Mercury. Take me to your leader. Take me

To the 5 & Dime I've got to go.

Faith under leisure: as difficult as

Keeping a hat in a hurricane

Or an appointment with an erasure.

One Mandela hit the other Mandela in the nose.

What color blood came out?

R - E - D spells red.

Are you people? You're about the nicest people

I know & I know some pretty unpleasant


Introduction | Table of Contents | Afterword: Charles Bernstein

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