Poetry Sunday: Breezeway

Acclaimed American poet John Ashberry died on September 3 at age 90. He was extremely prolific in his long career and was the winner of numerous awards including the Pulitzer and the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, all of which came for his 1975 book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

I admit I have only a glancing familiarity with his work. I knew his name and had read one or two of his poems. That was about the extent of it.

I went looking for one of his poems to feature this week and found this one, which was published in 2013 in The New Yorker. It seemed particularly current with its references to hurricanes. 

His hurricane references seem quite light-hearted though - nothing like the real event. 


by John Ashberry

Someone said we needed a breezewayto bark down remnants of super storm Elias jugularly.Alas it wasn’t my call.I didn’t have a call or anything resembling one.You see I have always been a rather dull-spirited winch.The days go by and I go with them.A breeze falls from a nearby towerfinds no breezeway, goes awayalong a mission to supersize red shutters.
Alas if that were only all.There’s the children’s belongings to be looked toif only one can find the direction neededand stuff like that.I said we were all homers not homosbut my voice dwindled in the roar of Hurricane Edsel.We have to live out our precise experimentation.Otherwise there’s no dying for anybody,no crisp rewards.
Batman came out and clubbed me.He never did get along with my view of the universeexcept you know existential threadsfrom the time of the peace beaters and more.He patted his dog Pastor Fido.There was still so much to be learnedand even more to be researched.It was like a goodbye. Why not accept it,anyhow? The mission girls came through the woodsin their special suitings. It was all whipped cream and baklava.Is there a Batman somewhere, who notices usand promptly looks away, at a new catalogue, say,or another racing-car expletivecoming back at Him?


  1. Well, this was....different. This was a man who marched to a different beat than the rest of us - quirkiness, in a way you can enjoy. Hurricane Edsel, indeed.

    1. Ashberry's was certainly a unique voice and point of view. I enjoyed many of the individual lines of this poem, even while perhaps not "getting" the whole. For example: "The days go by and I go with them" and "We have to live out our precise experimentation." Quirky indeed!

  2. Strange towards the end, I'd say, but I did like the hurricane references.

  3. We had a breezeway at my childhood home in New Jersey. By the time the hurricane that I remember most came through on the first day of my freshman year of high school, my parents had closed in the breezeway to make a family room/dining room. It was a good room but I missed the breezeway. I used to sit there in the summer and try to write a novel in the style of Nancy Drew.
    My father was an unpublished poet, though I have read most of his poems. Ashberry reminds me of my dad's poetic sensibilities.

    1. Then your dad must have had a unique poetic voice also.


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