The second typescript

[Page 19]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” second typescript, page 19


Still it is rather fun to linger on in the wet,
Letting your clothes get soaked. What difference does it make? No one will scold me for it,
Or look askance. Supposing I catch cold? It hardly matters, there are no nurses or infirmaries here
To make an ass of one. A seriousXXXXXXX really serious case of pneumonia would suit me fine.dele
Ker-choo! There, now I'm being punished for saying so. Aw, what's the use.
I really am starting down now. Goodbye, Storm-fiend. Goodbye, vultures.
In reality of course the bourgeois apartment I live in is nothing like a desert island.dele
Cozy and warm it is, with a good library and record collection.; the fridgedele
Stocked with toothsome victuals, the medecine chest with the latest wonder-drugs.dele
Yet I feel cut off from the life in the streets.
Automobiles and trucks plow by, spattering me with filthy slush.
The man in the street turns his face away. Another island-dweller, no doubt.
In a store or crowded cafe, you get a momentary impression of warmth:
Steam pours out of the expresso machine, fogging the panes with their modern lettering
Of a kind that has only been available for about a year. The headlines in 18 point [???] type offer youdele
News that is so new you can't realize it yet. A revolution in Argentina! Think of it! Bullets flying through the air, men on the move;
Great passions inciting to massive expenditures of energy, changing the lives of many individuals.
Yet it is all offered as "today's news," as if we somehow had a right to it, as though it were a part of our lives
That we'd be silly to refuse. Here, have another--crime or revolution? Take your pick.

None of this makes any difference to professional exiles like me, and that includes everybody in the place.
We go on sipping our coffee, thinking dark or transparent thoughts...
Excuse me, may I have the sugar. Why certainly--pardon me for not having passed it to you.
A lot of bunk, none of them really care whether you get any sugar or not.
Just try forXXX asking for something more complicated and see how far it gets you.dele
Not that I care anyway, being an exile. Nope, the motley spectacle offers no charms whatsoever for me--
And yet-- and yet I feel myself caught up in its coils--
Its defectuous movement is that of my reasoning powers--
The main point has already changed, but the masses continue to tread the water
Of backward opinion, living out their mandate as though nothing had happened.
We step out into the street, not realizing that the street is different.
And so it shall be all our lives; only, from this moment on, nothing will ever be the same again. Fortunately are our small pleasures and the monotony of daily existencedele
Are safe. You will wear the same clothes, and your friends will still want to see you for the same reasons--you fill a definite place in their lives, and they would be sorry to see you go.