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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.

Token Resistance

John Ashbery

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