Frank O’Hara for Charles

By | 7 December 2004

So it is 10.03 (this is when I still had my watch on)
and Charles and I are on our way through the rain
to Bill's Frank O'Hara lecture and Charles says
but anyone could write a Frank O'Hara poem, why
bother? Charles says Mark Pirie writes Frank
O'Hara poems. (Mark Pirie does not write
Frank O'Hara poems.) And he sits through
the lecture in his black leather jacket, his
trainers up on the metal ring bit of his chair,
his arms folded against his linen shirt, and
when I accidentally yell “goody” when Bill
says he'll play Frank O'Hara's recording
of “Song” he says “try and be a bit
more academic, Anna,” and Frank O'Hara
in a sweet and Ginsberg-like voice is repeating
his refrain, “you don't refuse to breathe
do you,” and I am thinking, if anyone
can write a Frank O'Hara poem, isn't that
a good thing? Doesn't that make us all
potentially good people? As if Ginsberg
had got it right and “we're all golden
sunflowers inside,” although later, in our
tutorial class, after listening to Ginsberg
giving a most elegiac and O'Hara-like rendition
of “America” on the computer with Windows
Media Player, we start looking at Plath,
and it is true she keeps her inner sunflower
pretty much hidden although I try
and make a case for reading the poems
as a literary exercise and the suicide
as a sort of accident and Frank O'Hara
poetry as what she could have been
writing if she weren't so determined
to think up something new and different
to do to interest the critics. I still think
she could have. Charles says anyone could!
So let's! Who knows what it might save
us from? After all, anyone can talk,
and you don't refuse to talk, do you.

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