January 24th, 2006 by Sommer

Not that anyone is begging me for an original poem, but since the birth of this blog, I have been fighting with myself to post one. So here it is. 

This poem was written ”after” or in the style of New York School poet Frank O’Hara, an easy poet to fall for. In particular, I am mimicking “Why I am not a painter.” He had a Romantic life, friends with so many hip post-modern artists of his time.  Many people know him for his lunch poems, written on scrap or napkins everyday on his lunch break, or for his poem, “The Day Lady Died,” written after Billy Holiday’s death. He made the I-do-this-I-do-that type of poem famous. His manifesto, Personsim, is sarcastic and deadly serious all at once, perfectly consistent with his style of poetry and his death from a dune buggy accident. He was just run over while walking on the beach. Absurd.

If you like this  type of writing, check out “Lana Turner Has Collapsed.” It’s hilarious.


For example,
my friend Michael is looking
at photos of other artists’
models to get ideas
for a painting when I drop in.
We stare at his white canvas.
I say, “It needs something.”
He says, “My own model.”  After
I pose, he sits naked for me.  I write
a line about his eyes—a whole page
of how his eyes take after
his mother’s when she stirs Borscht. 
I make up stories (I am a poet)
based on the Polish Festival pictures
she’s taken: This is when Dad split
his pants dancing.  I scratch that, focus
on Michael’s hands
balling Easter bread dough.
I try tracing one of them
on my page as a child might begin
a drawing of a Thanksgiving Turkey. 
I keep thinking about
his floured hands.  I think
white and fill the lines with
his hands on my neck.  I think about
the difference between white and whiter. 
But there should be so much more. 
Of life, of how terrible
bread is and dune buggies. 
I wash him out, and the words
create an imprecise synecdoche, a loose rib.
I look at his paintings, then my page.
His hands look smaller
in the place I’ve made for them—like a garden
in the middle of nowhere, like a mere
epigraph to his body.   

Entry Filed under: General Ranting

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