Selections from Ashbery’s previously unpublished “Czerny Variations” appears in Issue 228 of the Paris Review, guest edited by poet Monica Youn. Thank you, Monica!


Here’s an excerpt:

16. Alternating Fingers at Speed

When I think about it the total simplicity
charms me the way a wreck would, or a wraith. 
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with standing to one side
while the boars brush past, or invoking a ton of nymphs
if you want to: that’s show business, and horse trading
as well. Nor is it bad form to challenge the deity
over pale attributes emitted but never
knowingly received. While there’s a dead-letter office
one should be gradual in assuming and allocating 
blame, lest one’s last donation loom smallest
in the rear-view mirror’s tailpiece.

That said, I think there’s some point in listening.
You may never get over exactly what it was you wanted to experience,
yet neither may those who wanted to offend you at all costs
when, emerging from the drum in which you had been hiding
since World War II, you were struck by the freshness of everything,
even the gnats clustered at the hem of a curtain
for some reason, not wanting to get out 
along with everything else: placid, and confirmed, but not
going to stick around much longer, either,
as long as the climate was divided up by an infinite
number of propositions whose sum equalled that of the passengers
delayed by the strike and anxious to get home
early this night of chiseled dreams taking the helm
again, Laodicean, an ass between two bundles of hay.