Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FRANK O'HARA'S LUNCH ~










The great book. Now re-issued in its original format by its original publisher but for the first time in hardback with all its glory orange shining off the bookshelf. John Ashbery offers a short introduction which somehow could have done better. Beside the poems, still fresh as bananas, is the facsimile correspondence between publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Frank O' Hara at the back of the book, which includes O'Hara's polite request for Ferlinghetti to reconsider putting the gem poem "Personal Poem" back into the final manuscript. He did. 










Frank O'Hara
Lunch Poems
City Lights 2014




Personal Poem


Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I’m happy for a time and interested

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I’d like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty’s where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that’s that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don’t give her one we
don’t like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it’s
cool but crowded we don’t like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don’t like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don’t want to be in the poets’ walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so

1959




4 comments:

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Frank O'Hara is a poet we don't talk about often enough...Great lyricist voice of the contemporary world!

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Hello Conrad,

Actually, O'Hara is the one poet who seems to be making a successful comeback with all sorts of events taking place in his memory and honor. Paul Muldoon recently shared one event he was participating in where many poets gathered to read one favorite Frank O'Hara poem each, before an audience of 250.

That's not chicken feed.

all's well, Bob

Conrad DiDiodato said...

An audience of 250! Wow...

Only in America...Here you'd get barely 20 and only if you promised free food.

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Conrad,

Who's to say — the "250" may have been there mainly for the food, the glitz, the party. The poet has been gone for nearly a half century. I'm still giving him the credit for the draw. Entirely deserving.

all's well, Bob