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Frank O’Hara: an immediate and exploratory American poet

Poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.”

  • Yesterday Down at the Canal
  • You say that everything is very simple and interesting
  • it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great Russian novel does
  • i am terribly bored
  • sometimes it is like seeing a bad movie
  • other days, more often, it’s like having an acute disease of the kidney
  • god knows it has nothing to do with the heart
  • nothing to do with people more interesting than myself
  • yak yak
  • that’s an amusing thought
  • how can anyone be more amusing than oneself
  • how can anyone fail to be
  • can i borrow your forty-five
  • i only need one bullet preferably silver
  • if you can’t be interesting at least you can be a legend
  • (but i hate all that crap) 
  • Chez Jane
  • The white chocolate jar full of petals 
  • swills odds and ends around in a dizzying eye  
  • of four o’clocks now and to come. The tiger,  
  • marvellously striped and irritable, leaps  
  • on the table and without disturbing a hair  
  • of the flowers’ breathless attention, pisses  
  • into the pot, right down its delicate spout. 
  • A whisper of steam goes up from that porcelain  
  • urethra. “Saint-Saëns!” it seems to be whispering,  
  • curling unerringly around the furry nuts  
  • of the terrible puss, who is mentally flexing.  
  • Ah be with me always, spirit of noisy  
  • contemplation in the studio, the Garden  
  • of Zoos, the eternally fixed afternoons!  
  • There, while music scratches its scrofulous  
  • stomach, the brute beast emerges and stands,  
  • clear and careful, knowing always the exact peril  
  • at this moment caressing his fangs with  
  • a tongue given wholly to luxurious usages;  
  • which only a moment before dropped aspirin  
  • in this sunset of roses, and now throws a chair  
  • in the air to aggravate the truly menacing. 
  • Song (Did You See Me Walking by the Buick Repairs?)
  • Did you see me walking by the Buick Repairs?
  • I was thinking of you
  • having a Coke in the heat it was your face
  • I saw on the movie magazine, no it was Fabian’s
  • I was thinking of you
  • and down at the railroad tracks where the station 
  • has mysteriously disappeared 
  • I was thinking of you
  • as the bus pulled away in the twilight 
  • I was thinking of you
  • and right now
Frank O'Hara

Frank O’Hara (1926-1966) was an American poet and art critic, and considered the leading figure of the New York School, an informal arts and literature movement which stressed the avant-garde and surreal. As curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, O’Hara played a pivotal role in the success of the New York School, serving as confident and advocate for poets, dancers, playwrights, painters and other “students” of the School. More introspective than many of the poets in the New York School, O’Hara wrote poems that were at once immediate and exploratory, noting that poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.” His posthumous The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara was one of two books to win the 1972 National Book Award for Poetry. (Fellow New Yorker, and poetry editor of The New Yorker, Howard Moss also won that year’s prize for his Collected Poems.)

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  • Yesterday Down at the Canal
  • You say that everything is very simple and interesting
  • it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great Russian novel does
  • i am terribly bored
  • sometimes it is like seeing a bad movie
  • other days, more often, it’s like having an acute disease of the kidney
  • god knows it has nothing to do with the heart
  • nothing to do with people more interesting than myself
  • yak yak
  • that’s an amusing thought
  • how can anyone be more amusing than oneself
  • how can anyone fail to be
  • can i borrow your forty-five
  • i only need one bullet preferably silver
  • if you can’t be interesting at least you can be a legend
  • (but i hate all that crap) 
  • Chez Jane
  • The white chocolate jar full of petals 
  • swills odds and ends around in a dizzying eye  
  • of four o’clocks now and to come. The tiger,  
  • marvellously striped and irritable, leaps  
  • on the table and without disturbing a hair  
  • of the flowers’ breathless attention, pisses  
  • into the pot, right down its delicate spout. 
  • A whisper of steam goes up from that porcelain  
  • urethra. “Saint-Saëns!” it seems to be whispering,  
  • curling unerringly around the furry nuts  
  • of the terrible puss, who is mentally flexing.  
  • Ah be with me always, spirit of noisy  
  • contemplation in the studio, the Garden  
  • of Zoos, the eternally fixed afternoons!  
  • There, while music scratches its scrofulous  
  • stomach, the brute beast emerges and stands,  
  • clear and careful, knowing always the exact peril  
  • at this moment caressing his fangs with  
  • a tongue given wholly to luxurious usages;  
  • which only a moment before dropped aspirin  
  • in this sunset of roses, and now throws a chair  
  • in the air to aggravate the truly menacing. 
  • Song (Did You See Me Walking by the Buick Repairs?)
  • Did you see me walking by the Buick Repairs?
  • I was thinking of you
  • having a Coke in the heat it was your face
  • I saw on the movie magazine, no it was Fabian’s
  • I was thinking of you
  • and down at the railroad tracks where the station 
  • has mysteriously disappeared 
  • I was thinking of you
  • as the bus pulled away in the twilight 
  • I was thinking of you
  • and right now
Frank O'Hara

Frank O’Hara (1926-1966) was an American poet and art critic, and considered the leading figure of the New York School, an informal arts and literature movement which stressed the avant-garde and surreal. As curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, O’Hara played a pivotal role in the success of the New York School, serving as confident and advocate for poets, dancers, playwrights, painters and other “students” of the School. More introspective than many of the poets in the New York School, O’Hara wrote poems that were at once immediate and exploratory, noting that poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.” His posthumous The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara was one of two books to win the 1972 National Book Award for Poetry. (Fellow New Yorker, and poetry editor of The New Yorker, Howard Moss also won that year’s prize for his Collected Poems.)

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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