Saturday, January 3, 2009


This week’s poem is by a real favorite of mine, Frank O’Hara. Mr. O’Hara was closely associated with the “New York School” of poets, & like many of his colleagues had a great interest in painting—O’Hara was an art reviewer, & also a curator at the Museum of Modern Art; he counted painters such as Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers, & Jane Freilicher among his friends. O’Hara was also friends with fellow poets such as John Ashberry, Bill Berkson, & Ted Berrigan.

The poem “Morning” displays several of O’Hara’s poetic strengths: its emotional directness & complexity, its spontaneity, the eye for startling details. It’s a lovely lyric about loss, & ought to stand without explication, tho one might consider O’Hara’s own quip (not about this poem per se, but as an aesthetic statement): “The artificial is always innocent.” A poem, no matter how spontaneous, is “artifice,” & yet the attempt at connection is “innocent”—here, perhaps, in the sense of “hope against hope”; a longing that can’t be attained.

Hope you enjoy:


I've got to tell you
how I love you always
I think of it on grey
mornings with death

in my mouth the tea
is never hot enough
then and the cigarette
dry the maroon robe

chills me I need you
and look out the window
at the noiseless snow

At night on the dock
the buses glow like
clouds and I am lonely
thinking of flutes

I miss you always
when I go to the beach
the sand is wet with
tears that seem mine

although I never weep
and hold you in my
heart with a very real
humor you'd be proud of

the parking lot is
crowded and I stand
rattling my keys the car
is empty as a bicycle

what are you doing now
where did you eat your
lunch and were there
lots of anchovies it

is difficult to think
of you without me in
the sentence you depress
me when you are alone

Last night the stars
were numerous and today
snow is their calling
card I'll not be cordial

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
I beg you do not go

Frank O’Hara
© Frank O'Hara


  1. Wow! What a great poem! Jon Hamm recited an O'Hara poem at the close of the first episode of the second season of Mad Men. I wish I could recall which one.

    "Stonechat" is another good poetry blog. Read this entry about spending the night in the care park at Thoor Ballylee.

  2. Thanks K:

    Yes, I'm a big O'Hara fan, & glad you liked it. By the way, thanks for the poetry blog suggestions. The ones you've mentioned have looked good; things have been so hectic lately I just haven't had a chance to look at them as closely as I'd like.



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