on rachmaninoff’s birthday :: frank o’hara

Blue windows, blue rooftops
and the blue light of the rain,
these contiguous phrases of Rachmaninoff
pouring into my enormous ears
and the tears falling into my blindness

for without him I do not play,
especially in the afternoon
on the day of his birthday. Good
fortune, you would have been
my teacher and I your only pupil

and I would always play again.
Secrets of Liszt and Scriabin
whispered to me over the keyboard
on unsunny afternoons! and growing
still in my stormy heart.

Only my eyes would be blue as I played
and you rapped my knuckles,
dearest father of all the Russians,
placing my fingers tenderly upon your cold, tired eyes.

maurice ravel :: frank o’hara

That in the living, the fastening
seashells onto skyscrapers, syncopating
the lozenges, oh beauty! indestructible
you have become by his hands.

The harmful distances of silence
somewhat abated, he can finally rest
in your brain companioned by tempestuous
thoughts, walking him up and down,

waltzing him round, always with
love and discrimination self-taught.
Removing the silencer from the gun
he shot agates into your eyes, fell

upon the weak cries of infants
with leonine roars from backyard fences
and did not falter before the bolero’s
dumb desert. His wrist dropped oases.

If, at the untellable hour of quiet,
he had not put fingernail to
waterglass, what trees we’d’ve
turned to! fugitive, quivering.

chez jane :: frank o’hara

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.

personal poem :: frank o’hara

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 when I wait for
LeRol and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that’s that, and LeRol 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 poet’s 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 LeRol
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so