Frank O'Hara's Poems
At night Chinamen jump 
on Asia with a thump 

while in our willful way 
we, in secret, play 

affectionate games and bruise 
our knees like China's shoes. 

The birds push apples through 
grass the moon turns blue, 

these apples roll beneath 
our buttocks like a heath 

full of Chinese thrushes 
flushed from China's bushes. 

As we love at night 
birds sing out of sight, 

Chinese rhythms beat 
through us in our heat, 

the apples and the birds 
move us like soft words, 

we couple in the grace 
of that mysterious race. 


The eager note on my door said "Call me," 
call when you get in!" so I quickly threw 
a few tangerines into my overnight bag, 
straightened my eyelids and shoulders, and 

headed straight for the door.  It was autumn 
by the time I got around the corner, oh all 
unwilling to be either pertinent or bemused, but 
the leaves were brighter than grass on the sidewalk! 

Funny, I thought, that the lights are on this late 
and the hall door open; still up at this hour, a 
champion jai-alai player like himself? Oh fie! 
for shame!  What a host, so zealous!  And he was 

there in the hall, flat on a sheet of blood that 
ran down the stairs.  I did appreciate it.  There are few 
hosts who so thoroughly prepare to greet a guest 
only casually invited, and that several months ago. 



So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping 
our mouths shut? as if we'd been pierced by a glance! 

The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment 
than the vapors which escape one's soul when one is sick; 

so I pull the shadows around me like a puff 
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment 

of a very long opera, and then we are off! 
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet 

will touch the earth again, let alone "very soon." 
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate. 

I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear 
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can 

in the rain.  It's wonderful to admire oneself 
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each 

of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous, 
53 rd tries to tremble but is too at rest.  The good 

love a park and the inept a railway station, 
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up 

and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head 
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air 

crying to confuse the brave "It's a summer day, 
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world." 



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. 
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 I 2:40 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, e 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. 


*** All the poems are from The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, edited by Donald Allen (Berkeley: U of California P, 1995)

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