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This poem is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

Two Poems John Ashbery

Annuals and Perennials

Telling it so simple, so far away,
as this America, home of the free,
coloured ashes smeared on the base
or pedestal that flourishes ways of doubting
to be graceful, wave a slender hand...

We are fleet and persecuting
as hawks or crows.
We suffer for the lies we told, not wanting to
yet cupped in the wristlock of grace,
teenage Borgias or Gonzagas,
gold against grey in bands streaming,
meaning no harm, we never

meant it to, this stream that outpours now
haplessly into the vestibule that awaits.

We have shapes but no power.
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