What Seems Genuine

Frank O’Hara (1926 – 1966)

Frank O’Hara

by Ted Berrigan (1934 – 1983)

Winter in the country, Southampton, pale horse
as the soot rises, then settles, over the pictures
The birds that were singing this morning have shut up
I thought I saw a couple kissing, but Larry said no
It’s a strange bird. He should know. & I think now
“Grandmother divided by monkey equals outer space.” Ron
put me in that picture. In another picture, a good-
looking poet is thinking it over, nevertheless, he will
never speak of that it. But, his face is open, his eyes
are clear, and, leaning lightly on an elbow, fist below
his ear, he will never be less than perfectly frank,
listening, completely interested in whatever there may
be to hear. Attentive to me alone here. Between friends,
nothing would seem stranger to me than true intimacy.
What seems genuine, truly real, is thinking of you, how
that makes me feel. You are dead. And you’ll never
write again about the country, that’s true.
But the people in the sky really love
to have dinner & to take a walk with you.


There is too much death in our collective experience at the moment.  Not that death ever takes a break from things.   I have become allergic to Facebook.  It is the world’s biggest obituary.  I am of that age where either people’s parents are dying in their 80’s or people are dying too young of cancer or heart attacks in their 50’s and 60’s or friend’s adult children in their 20’s and 30’s are dying from things too sad to ponder.  Throw COVID into the mix and there is nary a good word on FaceBook to be heard.  

It’s December for real now, no pretending.  Not because there is any snow outside, it’s the shortness of the days.  I wake up in the dark, go to work in the dark, and come home from work in the dark.   It’s dark in Minnesota in December.   Best start lighting some candles!


A Step Away From Them

by Frank O’Hara

It’s my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored   
cabs. First, down the sidewalk   
where laborers feed their dirty   
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets   
on. They protect them from falling   
bricks, I guess. Then onto the   
avenue where skirts are flipping   
above heels and blow up over   
grates. The sun is hot, but the   
cabs stir up the air. I look   
at bargains in wristwatches. There   
are cats playing in sawdust.
                                          On
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher   
the waterfall pours lightly. A   
Negro stands in a doorway with a   
toothpick, languorously agitating.   
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he   
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything   
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of   
a Thursday.
                Neon in daylight is a   
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would   
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.   
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S   
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of   
Federico Fellini, è bell’ attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in   
foxes on such a day puts her poodle   
in a cab.
             There are several Puerto   
Ricans on the avenue today, which   
makes it beautiful and warm. First   
Bunny died, then John Latouche,   
then Jackson Pollock. But is the   
earth as full as life was full, of them?   
And one has eaten and one walks,   
past the magazines with nudes   
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and   
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,   
which they’ll soon tear down. I   
used to think they had the Armory   
Show there.
                A glass of papaya juice   
and back to work. My heart is in my   
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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