“On John Ashbery’s Birthday” by Greg Santos

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. Read “On John Ashbery’s Birthday” by Greg Santos.

“On John Ashbery’s Birthday”

By Greg Santos

Ashbery and I are both Leos.

11 years ago today, I wrote:

O Paris, why do our last few days

together have to be spent in the rain?

Montreal is my home now.

It’s sunny out with a smattering of clouds.

Two years ago, we were smack dab

at the start of a global pandemic.

Did you know, I make a mean fluffernutter?

On the plus side, we found a secret

garden reading nook in a nearby park.

Remember when playgrounds

were sealed off with danger tape?

We’ve gotten so used to wearing face masks,

I’m actually wearing one right now.

Literally and metaphorically.

Two years onward, what have we really

learned since then?

I’ve grown my hair out,

the kids have dyed theirs,

streaks of purple and green.

Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett

have been photographed smiling together,

tongues out, fingers splayed into peace signs.

Wait. Have we travelled back to 2019?

Or have we entered a parallel universe

where nothing has changed except

Plattsburgh simply doesn’t exist.

I can’t believe we simply

drove by and missed it.

The sparrows outside are chirping.

In the Amazon, agoutis are foraging for Brazil nuts.

The existence of the Loch Ness Monster

is plausible after a ground-breaking

freshwater fossil discovery.

Our hamster is napping in his coconut.

The world, it seems, is slowly healing.

I certainly hope so.

Montreal, July 28, 2022

Copyright © Greg Santos

Greg Santos is an poet, editor, and educator. He is the author of Ghost Face (DC Books, 2020) and several other collections of poetry. He is the Editor in Chief of the QWF’s online literary journal, carte blanche. He is an adoptee of Cambodian, Portuguese, and Spanish heritage. He lives in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal with his wife and two children.

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