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This poem is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

Well, Yes, Actually John Ashbery

WELL, YES, ACTUALLY

To whom it may concern: listen up.
About a year and a half ago a young man was in my office.
This young man,
whose name was Michael,
was the friend of another young man I already knew, Frederick by name.
Well, the upshot of it was, Michael,
who had pulled himself up by his bootstraps, wanted
to know the secret of things already not so secret,
like: water, does it seem swollen, or how much does it weigh
when all the water molecules have been withdrawn,
and to whom does one address onself after the correct answers have been passed around?
I told him, as best I could,
indeed, as I have told others in the past, that such soft
mechanisms, such software, can't be regulated, and if it could,
no one would want any answers. Well he just sits there,
...
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