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In the Studio


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I’ve always tried to work by addition and not subtraction.

Start


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And because I’m a taker by nature, / I am suspicious, exhausted, on guard / against tax refunds, friendships, erasures

Sacred and Profane Dances: New Prose Poems by John Ashbery


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The words can suddenly turn to vapor or stones. They have a way of wriggling out of our grasp just when we thought to touch them. This can happen to the wise as well as to the foolish.

ATTAINDER


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This evil that I feel, that I taste, that makes the roads slick, is there no end, no fruition to it? It comes from somewhere, sufficient to find out where.

Sacred and Profane Dances


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The words can suddenly turn to vapor or stones. They have a way of wriggling out of our grasp just when we thought to touch them. This can happen to the wise as well as to the foolish.

Tempest


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As usual Tempest’s strands were many. In conversation she was like a fisherman with a number of lines which she was constantly checking, to see if some unlucky bullhead or catfish might have gone for the bait.

At 4 a.m. Snow


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Earth stands / on end, listening. / The acid sun turns on / limes green

Via Negativa


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He feels such an urge to make things mean, / including his mood. He’s had that longing, / drunk or sober, all his life.

Zach’s Mystery, and Others


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We remember how we’d drink with him, and more / than half our gang are dead as he is now.

The Mushrooms


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I’d read that they were edible, so, using both hands, I plucked one from the ground and carried it inside, where I moved it, slowly, from the table to the fridge and then back outside.

Go Back and Fetch It


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“Literature…can hold up those things that mainstream society doesn’t believe: that Black people are there. One of my jobs is just holding that up to the light so that everyone can see that they’re there.”

How to Visit a Museum: Disciplines of Availability


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I’m waiting for that strange experience when a picture speaks, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes with a shout, sometimes with a reverberating silence that pulls me to the edge of a precipice where I’m not sure whether I’ll fall or fly.

The Heart of the Grandstand


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The racetrack, famously built before we knew of such things, straddled a fault line at the joint of two very active plates. As a result, fissures spread through the walls of the old grandstand like capillaries. The world was tearing it apart naturally.

The New Fear


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Our blood sugar was so high that our wounds
had stopped healing. We were either a tapestry
of Band-Aids or very careful.

The Boundary Waters


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One second he was riding on the river and the next he was in it, watching his canoe float away upside down, its silvery hull a bright line on the dark river.

Scandinavian Grim


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When my mother said
Linda
and looked that look, I could

see it all before me.

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