Token Resistance
by John Ashbery

copyright © 2007 by John Ashbery

As one turns to one in a dream
smiling like a bell that has just
stopped tolling, hold out a book
and speaks: “All the vulgarity

of time, from the Stone Age
to our present, with its noodle parlors
and token resistance, is as a life
to the life that is given you. Wear it,”

so must one descend from checkered heights
that are our friends, needlessly
rehearsing what we will say
as a common light bathes us,

a common fiction reverberates as we pass
to the celebration. Originally
we weren’t going to leave home. But made bold
somehow by the rain we put our best foot forward.

Now it’s years after that. It
isn’t possible to be young anymore.
Yet the tree treats me like a brute friend;
my own shoes have scarred the walk I’ve taken.