#1 / Garbage / A.R. Ammons

Creepy little creepers are insinuatingly
curling up my spine (bringing the message)

saying, Boy! are you writing that great poem
the world’s waiting for: don’t you know you

have an unaccomplished mission unaccomplished;
someone somewhere may be at this very moment

dying for the lack of what W.C. Williams says
you could (or somebody could) be giving: yeah?

so, these little messengers say, what do you
mean teaching school (teaching poetry and

poetry writing and wasting your time painting
sober little organic, meaningful pictures)

when values thought lost (but only scrambled into
disengagement) lie around demolished

and centerless because you (that’s me, boy)
haven’t elaborated everything in everybody’s

face, yet: on the other hand (I say to myself,
receiving the messengers and cutting them down)

who has done anything or am I likely to do
anything the world won’t twirl without: and

since SS’s enough money (I hope) to live
from now on on in elegance and simplicity–

or, maybe, just simplicity–why shouldn’t I
at my age (63) concentrate on chucking the

advancements and rehearsing the sweetness of
leisure, nonchalance, and small-time byways: couple

months ago, for example, I went all the way
from soy flakes (already roasted and pressed

and in need of an hour’s simmering boil
to be cooked) all the way to soybeans, the

pure golden pearls themselves, 65¢ lb. dry: they
have to be soaked overnight in water and they

have to be boiled slowly for six hours–but
they’re welfare cheap, are a complete protein,

more protein by weight than meat, more
calcium than milk, more lecithin than eggs,

and somewhere in there the oil that smoothes
stools, a great virtue: I need time and verve

to find out, now, about medicare/medicaid,
national osteoporosis week, gadabout tours,

hearing loss, homesharing programs, and choosing
good nutrition! for starters! why should I

be trying to write my flattest poem, now, for
whom, not for myself, for others?, posh, as I

have never said: Social Security can provide
the beans, soys enough my house, paid for for

twenty years, is paid for: my young’un
is raised: nothing one can pay cash for seems

very valuable: that reaches a high enough
benchmark for me–high enough that I wouldn’t

know what to do with anything beyond that, no
place to house it, park it, dock it, let it drift

down to: elegance and simplicity: I wonder
if we need those celestial guidance systems

striking mountaintops or if we need fuzzy
philosophy’s abstruse failed reasonings: isn’t

it simple and elegant enough to believe in
qualities, simplicity and elegance, pitch in a

little courage and generosity, a touch of
commitment, enough asceticism to prevent

fattening: moderation: elegant and simple
moderation: trees defined themselves (into

various definitions) through a dynamics of
struggle (hey, is the palaver rapping, yet?)

and so it is as if there were a genetic
recognition that a young tree would get up and

through only through taken space (parental
space not yielding at all, either) and, further:

so, trunks, accommodated to rising, to reaching
the high light and deep water, were slender

and fast moving, and this was okay because
one good thing about dense competition is that

if one succeeds with it one is buttressed by
crowding competitors, that is, there was little

room for branches, and just a tuft of green
possibility at the forests roof: but, now,

I mean, take my yard maple–put out in the free
and open–has overgrown, its trunk

split down from a high fork: wind has
twisted off the biggest, bottom branch: there

was, in fact, hardly any crowding and competition,
and the fat tree, unable to stop pouring it on,

overfed and overgrew and, now, again, its skin’s
broken into and disease may find it and bores

of one kind of another, and fungus: it just
goes to show you: moderation imposed is better

than no moderation at all: we tie into the
lives of those we love and our lives, then, go

as theirs go; their pain we can’t shake off;
their choices, often harming to themselves,

pour through our agitated sleep, swirl up as
no-nos in our dreams, we rise several times

in a night to walk about; we rise in the morning
to the crusty world headed nowhere, doorless:

our chests burn with anxiety and a river of
anguish defines rapids and straits in the pit of

our stomachs: how can we intercede and not
interfere: how can our love move more surroundingly,

convincingly than our premonitory advice