Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I Am Not Frank O'Hara

Today I'm feeling very Frank O'Hara in my new chartreuse shirt.
Of course, I lack his rakish widow's peak and almost Roman profile.
I lack his Manhattan address and his avant-garde coterie.
I will never pose for Larry Rivers or Alice Neel, never
(much as I'd like to) own a Fairfield Porter or Jane Freilicher.

I will never saunter into a typewriter shop on my lunch break
and tap out a new poem to accompany that evening's cocktails.
I lack a certain savoir-faire, a certain je ne sais quoi.
I'm a straight Midwesterner, a secondary school teacher
with two sons in tow, but my step is jaunty nonetheless.

I've got the summer off, and today we're going on vacation!
I've packed my fly rod and my Du Fu. Nothing
can bring me down, not even standing in shuffling
line after shuffling line for ticketing, baggage check-in,
and security. Don't they get tired? They look tired.

For nearly eight years they've been on orange alert!
In front of these uniformed strangers I take off my belt
and shoes, offer up my cellphone, my house and car keys,
then slip through their metal detectors undetected.
My only identifying traits: a jaunty step and a chartreuse shirt.

—Dallas Crow

"Why I Am Not Frank O'Hara" originally appeared in the 2010 issue of Off Channel.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frank O'Hara in Iowa, 1980

In their bedrooms teen boys prance
a la Freddie Mercury, fancying
themselves in tights and ballet slippers—
so tres charmant, my dear—but
to avoid post-school pummelings
their apparel proclaims allegiance
to Aerosmith, Zep, the home team.

Kids who have never heard of James Dean,
the adults' autumnal rectitude:
I've never been so happy to be dead!
Mothers, you only see some of what you see.

Amid the corn and soybeans and tv glow,
we are approaching the pole of inaccessibility,
where summer brings with it a kind of despair,
as do winter, spring, and fall.
Future farmwives of America, prepare
yourselves: you only see some of what you see.

—Dallas Crow

"Frank O'Hara in Iowa, 1980" originally appeared in issue #42 of Cairn.