Wednesday 7 May 2008

John Ash's The Bed

Not long after I learned I was going to Istanbul I learned John Ash has made the city his home for some years. I'd read and enjoyed his poems thereabouts before and began reading his Selected Poems from Carcanet in preparation for the chance of meeting, as he teaches at Kadir Has. I am so glad this opportunity arose, for I learned I love John Ash's poetry; Ash is a contemporary Calvino, taking the imaginative possibilities of a real city into its archetypal psychology. Here are selections from the selections of The Bed in the Selected Poems.

It is all perfect: the mirrors are hardly tarnished at all
and still flicker with the faces of unhappy children.

We have stepped into the frontispiece of a new book:
it is called 'The History of Pleasure'.

"Even though" (final stanzas)

The cat screams and hisses in the pipes all night.

"Prose for Roy Fisher"

In the last photograph to be taken
before the entire area was sealed

off, a black flock of birds descends
towards the snow-bound city--

descends in the shape of a neckline,
descends like a frustrated wish.

"The Last Photographs" (final stanzas)

The recital of nostalgias begins.

"Orchestral Manoeuvers (In the Dark)"

...the violin resumes before the rose can fade
or the stars fall out of the polished arc of heaven.

"Advanced Choreography for Beginners"

yes, the world is simple
and very far from our lives

* * *

I like this picture
even if its charm is suspect

"Salon Pieces"

but the longing stays with us--

I mean the golden longing

* * *

And a song is the engine
that builds this different climate....

* * *

We have to love the past
it is our invention.

"The Rain"

concluding in signatures
of a fantastic and lethal elegance.

"Accompaniment to a Film Scene" (last lines)

I escaped

and ran over some mountains--
they cannot have been so high
it is only now that the light reflected from their snows

is dazzling...

* * *

but I embraced the violent innocence
I found in America's great heart.

"Glowing Embers: Paraphrases & Fictions"


is all, like star-light

the worn linen
of a life.

"The Bed"

(nb: I also copied the whole of "Sonata in Two Sentences" into my journal)

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