fifty: frank o’hara.

upper east side. may 2012.

I went to a friend’s birthday a couple weeks ago. I had never been to her apartment, but was glad to see that I’m not the only one who scrawls lyrics or lines from literature on my walls after too much to drink. The friend’s bathroom was covered in “Steps” by Frank O’Hara and the lines dripped down the wall dramatically as if mascara from the eyes of a gal who’s been crying too hard.

I was given a book of Frank O’Hara’s poetry when I graduated from college. I read it, then put it away. It was not for lack of love, but lack of understanding. I think one has to have lived and loved in New York CIty to fully appreciate what he’s saying with his words.

Now, years later, I have lived and loved in New York City; and of all my loves, it is this city I have loved best. Frank O’Hara loved this city best, too.

I’m mad for you, my darling, and while I’ll never be able to compose an appropriate ode that perfectly conveys my love for you as O’Hara did with his poem “Steps,” I will agree with him when he says: “oh god it’s wonderful / to get out of bed / and drink too much coffee / and smoke too many cigarettes / and love you so much.”

On the other hand, “As Planned” is another work of O’Hara’s I’d like to send off to someone, because it’s true:

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don't you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

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