Dear John Ashbery
It doesn’t seem to matter if we are a hundred pages ahead or two hundred behind. Everything compared to a sack of melons is sour, which has something to do with aging. But it’s different for dinosaurs. In the manner of a T-Rex with big boobs and popcorn textured ceilings and early retirement… Maybe it’s a hoax. When breasts are blurry it basically means that women are not allowed to see. Thank god birds and humans sleep at the same time or we’d always be awake and hungry. I am not a forger, but I am in denial about my mouth. Everything that grows in the garden and the birds and jangles that fall out of mannerist paintings and poetry biz; I’d rather have a slow mouth with room for all this stuff than a mouth that runs. The same goes for social commentary and those imitations of football and beer. They are positioned near the center like the sun and in the end they are found in books. Bones made of zeros don’t rise to the surface. It all translates to something thinner than air. But in this translation the rocks have a future full of garbage and our necks grow an inch each year. How else are women going to reach the fruit when their fists stand in for stars and moons on nights like this? I’m almost certain that you know what it means to have a steady stream of light. You’ve anticipated future positions that used to be various shades of pink, but now there are fewer sources of light and everyone is shaped like smoke. You got me if I can tell which is which. It could be a nude woman painting another nude woman or an assemblage of fruit and visual trickery.
Dear John Ashbery
We’ve gotten used to stupid answers without even asking stupid questions and it’s a shame. It’s like waking up after dreaming of the rainbow that comes out when all the air is gone. And two of Jasper Johns’ white stars burst… their queer dust on display in every waiting room. Like Lehman said, “But that is art and this is life.” And the only way out of here is through a chimney. That’s how you out-Ashbery everyone, including Ashbery. You know what they say… the higher the chimney, the taller the architect who designed the brick shaft. The buoyancy in your poem “Worsening Situation” reminds me of a modern high rise in a rainstorm. No, it’s a ladybug trapped in every light fixture in every building. Let’s put it this way, I’m a wife and my wife is trapped in America’s airshaft. I googled, “what does an eggplant emoji mean?” Even though I already knew the answer, I just needed to ask.
Nicole Santalucia is the author of The Book of Dirt (NYQ Books), Spoiled Meat (Headmistress Press), and Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press). She is a recipient of the Charlotte Mew Chapbook Prize and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Best American Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, The Boiler Journal, TINGE Magazine, as well as others. She teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.