Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poem of the Week 3/21/2012: Having a Coke With You

Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

Frank O’Hara

This may be one of the sweetest love poems of all modern time; simple and direct and flowing, it offers a particular picture of delight that seems just right to share during the heat and sweat of an early warm spell in Cambridge MA. It showed up in some readings in a class about queer theory - it's optimism, Jose Munoz argues, is what ought to be offered by being "queer," which is, I read, anything beyond the box of the normal, the habitual, the quotidien dull round... What is explosive and fresh! What snaps us into full and vibrant attention, flowing to that delicious other, and the world and possibilities expand; this is, he argues, the leaning in of Utopia, the faintest glimmer and promise. One should just as much say that these glimmerings light up life, make meaning, may be the revolution themselves.

Of course, there are the references to the meaning of art and beauty, the question of a lived and felt experience over that of the work of art, the way the work of art is itself propagated (Elaine Scarry writes that beauty begets beauty, a clicking brook of associations from one act of beauty to another - "this is why I am telling you about it," writes O'Hara), and these are also worth noting. And the poem takes up the great modern project of voicing the everyman, incarnated essentially by Wordsworth back in the day... Offering, alongside, another system of values - to seize the everyday! To live by loving every delicious detail of what is there - tulips and trees and coca cola and lover... Happy hot spring boston and beyond!

1 comment:

frank g said...

this poem is little too precious and show offy in a sort of upper east side super soohisticated doesnt say much ti his lover except that o hara can name drop with the best of gertrude says to polonius:more matter with less art!