Weekly Poem: ‘Composition’
By John Ashbery
We used to call it the boob tube,
but I guess they don’t use tubes anymore.
Whatever, it serves a small purpose after waking
and before falling asleep. Today’s news—
but is there such a thing as news,
or even oral history? Yes, when you want to go back
after a while and appraise the accumulation
of leaves, say in a sandbox.
The rest is rented depression,
available only in season
and the season is always next month,
a pure but troubled time.
That’s why I don’t go out much, though
staying at home never seemed much of an option.
And speaking of nutty concepts, surely “home”
is way up there on the list. I feel more certain about “now”
and “then,” because they are close to me,
like lovers, though apparently not in love with me,
as I am with them. I like to call to them,
and sometimes they reply, out of the deep business of some dream.
John Ashbery is the author of more than 30 volumes of poetry, criticism and essays. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and his body of work has led many to consider him one of the nation’s most important writers of the last half century. For more about Ashbery, including an interview and poems, visit our Poetry Series.