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Best Famous Frank O'hara Poems

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Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

Death

1

If half of me is skewered
by grey crested birds
in the middle of the vines of my promise
and the very fact that I'm a poet
suffers my eyes
to be filled with vermilion tears 


2

how much greater danger
from occasion and pain is my vitality
yielding like a tree on fire!--
for every day is another view
of the tentative past
grown secure in its foundry of shimmering
that's not even historical;it's just me.
3 And the other half of me where I master the root of my every idiosyncrasy and fit my ribs like a glove 4 is that me who accepts betrayal in the abstract as if it were insight? and draws its knuckles across the much-lined eyes in the most knowing manner of our time? 5 The wind that smiles through the wires isn't vague enough for an assertion of a personal nature it's not for me 6 I'm not dead.
Nothing remains let alone "to be said " except that when I fall backwards I am trying something new and shall succeed as in the past.


Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem

Ode To Modern Art

 Come on in and stay a while
I'll photograph you emerging from the revolving door
like Frank O'Hara dating the muse of modern art
Talking about the big Pollock show is better
than going to it on a dismal Saturday afternoon
when my luncheon partner is either the author or the subject
of The Education of Henry Adams at a hard-to-get-
a-table-at restaurant on Cornelia Street
just what is chaos theory anyway
I'm not sure but it helps explain "Autumn Rhythm"
the closest thing to chaos without crossing the border
I think you should write that book on Eakins and also the one
on nineteenth century hats the higher the hat the sweller the toff
and together we will come up with Mondrian in the grid of Manhattan
Gerald Murphy's "Still Life with Wasp" and the best Caravaggio in the country
in Kansas City well it's been swell, see you in Cleveland April 23
The reason time goes faster as you grow older is that each day
is a tinier proportion of the totality of days in your life
Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

Poem

The clouds ache bleakly
and when they can manage it 
crush someone's head in
without a sound of anger.
This is a brutal mystery.
We meet in the streets with our hands in our pockets and snarl guiltily at each other as if we had flayed a cloud or two in our salad days.
Lots of things do blame us; and in moments when I forget how cruel we really should be I often have to bite my tongue to keep from being guilty.
Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem

April 24

 Did you know that Evian spelled backwards is naive?
I myself was unaware of this fact until last Tuesday night
when John Ashbery, Marc Cohen, and Eugene Richie
gave a poetry reading and I introduced them
to an audience that already knew them,
and there were bottles of Evian at the table.
As air to the lungs of a drowning man was a glass of this water to my dry lips.
I recommend it to you, a lover of palindromes, who will also be glad to learn that JA read us three "chapters" of his new poem, "Girls on the Run," a twelve- part saga inspired by girls' adventure stories, with characters named Dimples and Tidbit plus Talkative and Hopeful on loan from "Pilgrim's Progress.
" As Frank O'Hara would have said, "it's the nuts.
" The poets' books were on sale and afterwards two of the poets signed theirs happily and the third did so willingly and Joe took photos and I smiled for the camera, shaking hands with people I knew or didn't know and thinking how blessed was the state of naivete my naive belief in the glory of the word
Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

The Lover

He waits and it is not without
a great deal of trouble that he tickles
a nightingale with his guitar.
He would like to cry Andiamo! but alas! no one has arrived yet although the dew is perfect for adieux.
How bitterly he beats his hairy chest! because he is a man sitting out an indignity.
The mean moon is like a nasty little lemon above the ubiquitous snivelling fir trees and if there's a swan within a radius of twelve square miles let's throttle it.
We too are worried.
He is a man like us erect in the cold dark night.
Silence handles his guitar as clumsily as a wet pair of dungarees.
The grass if full of snakespit.
He alone is hot admist the stars.
If no one is racing towards him down intriguingly hung stairways towards the firm lamp of his thighs we are indeed in trouble sprawling feet upwards to the sun our faces growing smaller in the colossal dark.


Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

Like

It's not so much 
abstractions are available:
the lofty period of the mind
ending a sentence while the pain endures:
departures absences.
And you are still on the dock the smoke hasn't cleared in The Narrows At noon I sit in Jim's Place waiting for George Who is mopping the stage up While two girls cry in the last row.
I think they got laid last night.
But who didn't? it was a spring night.
Probably George did too.
And now the ship has gone beyond come sheets windows streets telephones and noises: to where I cannot go not even a long distance swimmer like myself.
Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

My heart

I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time 
I don't prefer one "strain" to another 
I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie 
not just a sleeper but also the big 
over-produced first-run kind.
I want to be at least as alive as the vulgar.
And if some aficionado of my mess says "That's not like Frank!" all to the god! I don't wear brown and grey suits all the time do I? No I wear workshirts to the opera often.
I want my feet to be bare I want my face to be shaven and my heart-- you can't plan on the heart but the better part of it my poetry is open.
Written by Frank O'Hara | Create an image from this poem

Spleen

I know so much
about things I accept
so much it's like
vomiting.
And I am nourished by the shabbiness of my knowing so much about others and what they do and accepting so much that I hate as if I didn't know what it is to me.
And what it is to them I know and hate.
Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem

July 10

 The sky was a midnight blue
velvet cloth draping
a birdcage and no moon
but the breeze was whistling
and the sound of a car
on Valentine Place was
the rush of a waterfall
on the phone in New York City
and that's when the muse
turned up with curly brown locks
she was a poet, too, and wanted
me to give her an assignment
she was willing to trade
fifteen minutes of inspiration
in return for a phone call
from Frank O'Hara in heaven
sipping espresso and Irish whiskey
and then a morning swim
we had so much energy those days
we needed to burn some up
before we could paint