Frank O'Hara

Poem By Ted Berrigan

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.

Comments about Frank O'Hara

Did O'Hara say we cannot be ourselves?
Frank Avon said it all in his Frank comment about Frank O'Hara. When I first saw the poem, I thought it was very strange, but I've never read any of O'Hara's work before (at least not that I can remember) so you probably have to be familiar with his work to fully appreciate this. I will have to look at some of O'Hara's poems.
A great treasure of tribute to a Master Writer and Poet.
I think this poem is a true tribute to Frank O'Hara; it is also a true tribute to all (such) poetry. He will never be less than pefectly Frank. The style of the poem is imitative of O'Hara's style, and thus a true tribute of the simplest order. Though it doesn't quite live up to O'Hara, what does raise it above many such efforts are the lines/passages that speak to others of us in quite different situations. How very many of us, for example, have friends (or have lost friends) who 'are completely interested in whatever there may / be to hear'? How very many of us have friends (or have lost friends) of whom we might say, 'What seems genuine, truly real, is thinking of you, how / that makes me feel.' This poem is an elegy not in the least elegiac. How very many of us have lost friends, colleagues and beloved ones of whom we often say to ourselves, 'But the people in the sky really love / to have dinner & to take a walk with you.' To be perfectly Frank, I think that's be best eulogy of all. And aren't most of us, after all, 'people of the sky' when we walk the sidewalks of NYC with Frank O'Hara and enjoy lunch with him not far from his Museum of Modern Art?


Rating Card

4,5 out of 5
1 total ratings

Other poems of BERRIGAN

A Certain Slant Of Sunlight

In Africa the wine is cheap, and it is
on St. Mark's Place too, beneath a white moon.
I'll go there tomorrow, dark bulk hooded
against what is hurled down at me in my no hat

Things To Do In New York (City)

Wake up high up
frame bent & turned on
Moving slowly
& by the numbers

Chinese Nightingale

We are involved in a transpersonified state
Revolution, which is turning yourself around

Last Poem

Before I began life this time
I took a crash course in Counter-Intelligence
Once here I signed in, see name below, and added
Some words remembered from an earlier time,

Easter Monday [excerpt]

Under a red face, black velvet shyness
Milking an emaciated gaffer. God lies down
Here. Rattling of a shot, heard
From the first row. The president of the United States