Thompson Twins, Friendly's ice cream, furry kitten slippers!
You invade my doleful precinct with your slapdash insouciance!
Wasilla, Flagstaff, Oconomowoc, Hoboken,
when will you come to me, wring my heart, ravish my eager flesh?
It's February 11th. Can Spring be far behind?
Ask any New Englander, with memories of snow,
two feet of the stuff, on April Fool's Day,
twenty-odd years ago.
Pepperoni pizza, Depakote, baseball cards!
Nine-year-old opera enthusiast! Audenesque reality shows!
St Thérèse of Lisieux! Philadelphia Eagles! Ron Virgin Rum!
Frank O'Hara, this poem's for you.
I remember when I found your poem "A Step Away from Them"
in that paperback anthology when I was 16.
I liked the way you slipped Italian phrases
into the prosy chatter.
I remember at U Mass Amherst a few years later
how the bearded librarian tittered
when he saw the cover of your Selected Poems
(a drawing of you in the nude, equipment front and center).
I don't know, Frank. To be perfectly honest,
I'd much rather write a poem for Hart Crane.
He was more my style. Turgid iambics, oceanic, lush,
sturdy as a stevedore, monumental as a mountain.
It's 11:24 pm.
And my junior-year English teacher, Mr Halloran,
wouldn't even give you the time of day.
I'm sitting in my kitchen
with a cup of Folgers Instant
and without a Harvard degree.
Glaswegian soup-kitchens! Eighties synth-pop!
Isn't the gladiolus the worst kind of John Hughes film?
Senescent sophomores admire you endlessly,
Caedmon of Coca-Cola, Homer of ham sandwiches.
But I being poor have only my Dylan Thomas,
whose poems you once dismissed as "Welsh spit."
O transcendental ten-speed! O metaphysical Massapequa!
Artsy-fartsy, schlocky-wocky, itchy-kitschy Frank O'Hara,
I wish you were one-tenth as comical as Kenneth Koch.
Poetry by Thomas DeFreitas
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Written on 2018-02-12 at 06:07
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