Our 50th Anniversary edition of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems was released last month. For the time being and into the foreseeable future, we’ll be spending our lunches with Frank across our social media channels, sharing news and reviews related to the celebration of this book’s reissue.
As the world welcomes back this book (ahem, in a handsome new hardcover edition that restores the original color scheme and line breaks, with an exclusive forward by John Ashbery and previously unseen correspondences between O’Hara and Lawrence Ferlinghetti about publishing the book), we begin to see new critiques and revelations about Frank’s most complete collection of poems from a huge range of sources, both old and new.
The Poetry Project held a great event upon this book’s release, 37 different poets reading one of the 37 poems in the book. Go here for exclusive photos of the event.
It’s all a testament to how timeless this book is, how personal and ever-evolving the love is for Frank with each new generation–love for both his life and poetry.
So today we’ll be sharing 3 poems: two titled “Poem” and one called “Personal Poem”. Which feature the O’Haraian combo of startling ruminations on first loves, bowel movements in church, and drinking ale at lunch time.
Instant coffee with slightly sour cream
in it, and a phone call to the beyond
which doesn’t seem to be coming any nearer.
“Ah daddy, I wanna stay drunk many days”
on the poetry of a new friend
my life held precariously in the seeing
hands of others, their and my impossibilities.
Is this love, now that the first love
has finally died, where there were no impossibilities?
Wouldn’t it be funny
if The Finger had designed us
to shit just once a week?
all week long we’d get fatter
and fatter and then on Sunday morning
while everyone’s in church ploop!
Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kenemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I’m happy for a time and interested
I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the house of Seagram with its wet
and its lounger and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I’d like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty’s where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that’s that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside Birdland by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don’t give her one we
don’t like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it’s
cool but crowded we don’t like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don’t like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don’t want to be in the poets’ walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so