I have tried them all,
The cotton, the nylon,
absorbing water, rolling in sand,
sticky flakes of broken glass.
We all drown in the end.
Fifty years ago, Frank O’Hara released Lunch Poems, a collection of remarkably informal poetry that rebuked the more academic verse of his day. As a tribute, Dwight Garner writes about the importance of the book in the Times, arguing that O’Hara’s grasp of the zeitgeist is the reason he appeared on Mad Men. For more on the poet’s legacy, take a look at Christopher Richards on O’Hara’s lessons for being gay.
I’m always inspired because I’m alive. It’s a gift to be able to do this. I don’t need outside inspiration. I need time. And if, and when, I get it, I use it. It would scare me to have all day long to write. I need pockets of time, spaces where it is tempting to write before the clock strikes the end. That’s where poems are born for me, when time is so compressed that the idea sparks out.
If only you could paraphrase
how his yellows are. Spread flat
on your bed some eighteenth
century map of
Saint Kitts. What else is there
but ornamentation? My beard like
wheat. Like how the
cabbage palms seem unevenly hacked
It should go without saying that no one goes into poetry for money.
Poetry makes us children again.