John Ashbery, "Novelty Love Trot"

I enjoy biographies and bibliographies,
and cultural studies. As for music, my tastes
run to Liszt's Consolations, especially the flatter ones,
though I've never been consoled
by them. Well, once maybe.

As for religion, it's about going to hell,
isn't it? I read that 30% of Americans believe in hell,
though only one percent thinks they'll end up there,
which says a lot about us, and about the other religions.
Nobody believes in heaven. Hell is what gets them fired up.
I'm probably the only American

who thinks he's going to heaven, though my reasons
would be hard to explain. I enjoy seasons
and picnicking. A waft from a tree branch
and I'm in heaven, though not literally.
For that one must await the steep decline
into a declivity, and shouts from companions
who are not far off.

In the end it matters little what things we enjoy.
We list them, and barely have we begun
when the listener's attention has turned to something else.
"Did you see that? The way that guy cut him off?"
Darlings, we'll all be known for some detail,
some nick in the chiseled brow, but it won't weigh much
in the scale's careening pan. What others think
of us is the only thing that matters,
to us and to them. You are stuffing squash blossoms
with porcini mushrooms. I am somewhere else, alone as usual.

I must get back to my elegy.