29 April 2010

Poem in Your Pocket Day



"Bad poet!" I've done little here to commemorate Poetry Month (or Jazz Appreciation Month either!) this April. To remedy this oversight, and in honor of the "Lady Day": The Many Faces of Billie Holiday" exhibit currently at the Pratt Library, here's one of my favorite poems by (born in Baltimore) Frank O'Hara







The Day Lady Died
by Frank O'Hara


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days

I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it


and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing.


Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” from Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted with the permission of City Lights Books. Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1995) and Poetry Magazine website

3 comments:

Arnold said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I

would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have

enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

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ReggieH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John K said...

I love this poem, and never tire of reading it. Thanks for posting it!

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