we could send you out there
to join the cackle squad,
but hey, that highly accomplished,
thinly regarded equestrian—well there was no way
he was going to join the others’ field trip.
Wouldn’t put his head on the table.
But here’s the thing:

They had owned great dread,
knew of a way to get away from here
through ice and smoke
always clutching her fingers, like it says
to do.

Once we were passionate about the police,
yawned in the teeth of pixels,
but a far rumor blanked us out.
We bathed in moonshine.
Now, experts disagree.
Were we unhappy or sublime?
We’ll have to wait until the next time
an angel comes rapping at the door
to rejoice docently.

(I know there’s a way to do this.)


Copyright © 2015 by John Ashbery. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 1, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“It’s difficult for me to comment on the writing of a poem. It seems to be a process of discovering something and then forgetting it. ‘Experts disagree’ reminds me of Laura Riding’s book title Experts are Puzzled. Both of us, I think, are suspicious of experts, but in my case it’s a question of finding out whether we were formerly unhappy or sublime. The last line crystallizes for me the desperate hope of every poet when writing. Let’s hope ‘there’s a way to do this.’”
John Ashbery