The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday and Monticello's History

Puff Piece
By John Ashbery

And when I pulled it out of my pocket I thought surely
all this has been done before. And my smirched muse
answered, wholly in secret: What are apron strings
for? Your comment-clad walls feign disinterest
and sixes or sevens more, yet the petering out
of rivers will always call up terrible if tangential
echoes from foremost among us. Oh sure. And he
wants us to believe that and in how we came here. Well, Sarge,
count me out. I'm heading for a clean-named place
like Wisconsin, and mad as a jack-o'-lantern, will get there
without help and nosy proclivities. So it was on my street
the bells rung and said it was time to take an interest
in the new nuisances, wherever they might be.
And I stood,
tall in the saddle, requesting information, or data,
from other echoes, and how many rascals did impeach me here,
or, of the rest of our race, implore me now
that heaven's on the line too, mother god or drug:
such a follow-up, because who knows when that'll be?


From this week's New Yorker. Ashbery's latest collection of poems is Planisphere.

Most of what I accomplished on Thursday took place before 9 in the morning. Tiara Galleries, the biggest local Vera Bradley shop, was having an event to unveil the new fall patterns and giving away zip ID cases just for visiting, and since my beloved Pinwheel Pink case is looking a bit worn and I love the new Very Berry Paisley pattern, there was no way I was missing that. I didn't think it would be too crowded shortly after 8 a.m. but there were lots of people, plus bagels, cupcakes, cookies, etc. I am nervous because it looks like the bucket tote is being phased out in favor of other bags, and it's the perfect size for me -- none of the new patterns is available in that design. But the salespeople were very friendly, and afterward I went to Trader Joe's, which was as empty both inside and in the parking lot as I have ever seen it, yay!

My glasses were already fogging with the heat when I walked out of the air conditioning to drive home, so it was just as well I had to spend the rest of the day indoors out of the heat. Our washing machine is now fixed -- we found a local company much faster and friendlier than Sears, and it cost about what we were expecting -- and they arrived right when they said they would. Adam went to the pool in the afternoon while Daniel worked on his summer project and I set up and played with my new scanner, which also entailed cleaning off my desk, sorting papers from three years ago, deciding I really don't need to save my serial port Zip drive, things like that.

We were very happy to hear that a Massachusetts judge ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and that the Presbyterian Church has decided to welcome gay clergy. Futurama echoed that theme in this evening's episode with its defense of "robosexuals," which I'm sure someone is going to tell me offended them but I thought it was hilarious and timely -- I knew Amy and Bender were never going to last as a couple so I knew better than to take it as anything but an experiment on Amy's part, and I loved both the earnest echoing of gay rights themes and the goofy stuff like George Takei moderating the debate ("We flipped a coin before the debate and Bender stole it, so we'll start with him"), then his throwaway about not having heard such a eloquent rebuttal since Bill Shatner explained why he couldn't pay him back. But the best moments by far were the ones bashing the religious idiocy about the dangers of gay marriage, excuse me, robo marriage -- the threatening ad where no one can actually think of a single reason it represents a threat to children, "The only lies worth believing are the ones in the Bible."

I didn't watch the publicity machine, but apparently I didn't need to because Jon Stewart just explained that LeBron James has joined Team Jacob -- hahahaha!

The thermometer and erasable notebook that Thomas Jefferson used to record information about his farm and the environment.

A reproduction of one of Jefferson's building notebooks for Monticello II, listing the number of wooden planks needed for various rooms.

Martha Jefferson was the overseer of the brewery, recording the brewing of a 15-gallon cask of small beer every couple of weeks in her own account books. Slaves did the actual work of malting and brewing particularly once they began to produce ale.

These beads, buttons, and fasteners were owned by the enslaved women at Monticello, who sold their own produce and shopped for themselves in town in addition to shopping for the Jefferson family.

These stones mark the corner of a slave dwelling along Mulberry Row, the shaded area above the sunny hillside fields.

Jefferson tried a variety of crops and methods of cultivation with less success than George Washington had at Mount Vernon, in part because the insects and temperatures varied in the mountains.

The gardens around the house had a small pond to keep stream-caught fish fresh for dinner. The pond is still there, though mostly insects live in the garden now.

Like many of the other Founding Fathers, Jefferson grew tobacco and hemp.

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