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This poem is taken from PN Review 140, Volume 27 Number 6, July - August 2001.

Four Poems John Ashbery

The Decals in the Hallway

remanded Margery to an earlier contingency:
Sir Isaac fishing for compliments
in troubled waters, and like that. In a flash, a star
o'erspread their terrestrial inhibitions. Mother's
hairnet came unknotted. She dabbled in bliss
all her life, early knew perfection's spiteful sting.

He'd imbibed his father-in-law's authority
as though it were ichor. Sometimes, transplanted
to the elephant's-foot umbrella stand
in the vestibule, he'd curse children and the impossible
trail of conundrums they leave behind. It'd
be just like him, she thought, to leave
on the eve of the midnight of their secrecy,
secretly planning to be around next morning
when the gulls had drifted away and the engines given

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