The John Ashbery School of Fortune Cookie Writing

Some ambiguous event or thought happens in this line
and the entity swerves unexpectedly in this line
to reveal a “Rachel-and-Decker” memory of something
that may or may not have happened,
which is then questioned and pompadoured in this line.

This new stanza is where the poem starts to feel like ice-fishing,
and if you are trying to connect this cartoonish line
to the mock-Shakespearean second line in the first stanza
you are luxuriously wasting your time,
but you probably can’t help it. It’s your edumacation, shtoopid.

This line is making fun of a classical reference
even as it is deploying it, lending credence
to the ideas that 1.) the poet is smart and 2.)he’s probably serious at some level,
even if in this line he clearly indicates
(as a tiny dog yaps here) he’s on your side about the bullshit of it all.

This final stanza makes it quite clear
that summation or epiphany is a fool’s game
and this line is going to add a farewell non-sequitur
with just a soupcon of devilish wit, circa 1955,
reminding you that this is, after all, a lark’s tongue-in-aspic.

……………………………………………………………–William Keckler

with thanks,


  1. poetryandporse said,

    November 24, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Those who forget how the brick-days edge
    is nothing


    but shop-front brick and stucco, paint on
    surface words


    nobody bricks to edge: placed all over

    all over

    nothing happening again, piled-up
    fell-down bricking-up, happening

    held up

    holds to the happening of happiness
    making do falling-down where making

    forget it, happens in memory plaster
    looking gap looking mortared, as if

    as if

    it had seen change:
    there just is they who were before

    as if they had meant the way they
    up and undered again and again

    as if they know not what went before
    knew what had come: old walls

    memory-sealed inside-words, sky,
    the outline brick a days breath

    shifts, in through the window, room,
    for if you build around: it will come

    first and follow what is no different
    from how it was, the smooth Jah

    down over what might have been
    happening glows on and on You

    who open wordlessly

    shut it

    again as another: from what it was
    before whatever it was you forget

    will be into the net, as that were
    not the them of again and again

    but things always before us. A, J


    Wyn Stammers.

    The raw material words of this piece, appear in a poem ‘Reconstruction’, by an academic and poet my age, who is also a post-doctoral researcher and instructor of Creative Writing students at Bangor University. Editor of Poetry Wales, published by the impecable Seren books, who also publish Poetry Wales, and this weeks choice by (Seren published) Guardian Ltd corporate goddess Carol Rumen’s – cviii series one – Poem of the Week: exhibited on the plinth of uk po-biz at that dumps shop window.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    November 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    William James is the nitrous oxide philosopher.

    John Ashbery is the nitrous oxide poet.

    Religion belongs to the sober priest.

    Poetry, to the intoxicated one.

    Poetry enters when the priest begins to giggle.

    The giggling ends when the priest becomes a poet.