Sunday, February 15, 2015

Having a Coke with You by Frank O'Hara

Having a coke with you
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, IrĂșn, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

                                                                                                       I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

F R A N K  O ' H A R A

I don't know about you but I'm often unsure of how to read poems like this one.  The poems that our English teacher told us to use the word "enjambement" to describe.  As if that would help our understanding of what the poet was trying to say.  In answer to that problem, Frank O'Hara has this to say (taken from 'Personism: A Manifesto):

But how then can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what? For death? Why hurry them along? Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don't give a damn whether they eat or not. Forced feeding leads to excessive thinness (effete). Nobody should experience anything they don't need to, if they don't need poetry bully for them.



Hannah @ Eating with Alice said...

I love Frank O'Hara's words on understanding poetry - I totally agree with him. I've often forced myself to read poetry I didn't quite understand or enjoy because I thought it might improve me. Somehow, the less I understand it, the more I think there must be some magic wisdom just beyond my grasp. So, this is such a refreshing outlook for me. Thanks so much for sharing.

xx Hannah

P.S. Love your blog!

Renlau Outil said...

'Like a tree breathing through its spectacles'

Don't know what it means, but it sure sounds pretty.

And what are 'drippings' with potatoes?

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