Archives for posts with tag: Frank O’Hara

self-portrait as Frank O’Hara
by Jax NTP

after the third carafe of grapefruit vodka
the thick jawline of streetlights clatter
such buttery clarity ― what is forgiveness

but submission defeat mistaken for love
crammed within the mint echoes of small
spaces rancid clementine moldy avocados

i swig mouthfuls of spoilt milk to calm
the bellyful of alcohol ― even if you check
the expiration date on the day of purchase

it doesn’t mean you’ll remember it
it’s pointless to ruin your life over a girl
who’s in love with a meth addict ― but you

can always go back to the store to get a refund
pain provides logic which is bad for you
for some animals the ritual pattern of courtship

is the dance of death the satisfaction of human needs
creates new needs the girl quotes theories of marxism
to refuse my love ― cowardice is the new order of her day

i wear my freudian slips like fancy evening gloves
exploratorium it’s not the anxiety that i am held up
but the anxiety that i am holding her up

i thought her lies would change me
but they didn’t that which corrodes will discolor
i am a whiskey jellyfish certain of uncertainties

each breath intensified by the solitude
of having nothing to look forward to and i savor
the fact that once ― i gave her the chance to ruin me

IMAGE: Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Larry Rivers (1955).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jax NTP holds an MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from CSULB. Jax was the former editor-in-chief of RipRap Literary Journal and associate editor of The Fat City Review. Jax has an affinity for jellyfish and polaris and a fetish for miniature succulent terrariums. Visit her at


by Frank O’Hara (1926-1966)

        … I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor with nostalgia for an innocent past of perverted acts in pastures. No. One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing? Uh huh. 

Read the rest of the poem at

“Meditations in an Emergency” is found in Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poetry collection of the same name. The 52-page book, reissued by Grove Press in 1996, is available at

AUTHOR BIO FROM THE POETRY FOUNDATION: Frank O’Hara (born in 1926) was a dynamic leader of the “New York School” of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. From the beginning, O’Hara’s poetry was engaged with the worlds of music, dance, and painting. In that complex of associations, he devised an idea of poetic form that allowed the inclusion of many kinds of events, including everyday conversations and notes about New York advertising signs. Since his death in 1966 at age forty, the depth and richness of his achievements as a poet and art critic have been recognized by an international audience.

PAINTING: Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Larry Rivers (1955)


Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Larry Rivers (1955)

FROM POETS.ORG: During the 1950s, poet Frank O’Hara was the subject of numerous portraits by New York School painters, including Nell Blaine, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers, and Jane Freilicher, who suggested that O’Hara appeared in so many paintings because he was always hanging around artists’ studios. O’Hara wanted to be as involved in the artistic process as possible, whether it meant stretching canvases or posing as a model. He built close associations with Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, who were just beginning to be known as Abstract Expressionists. He also befriended up-and-coming painters such as Richard Diebenkorn and Cy Twombly.

by Frank O’Hara (1926-1966)

 Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were French? 

          Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth. 

          Why should I share you? Why don’t you get rid of someone else for a change? 

          I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love. 

          Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m just like a pile of leaves.  

Read the rest of the poem at

“Meditations in an Emergency” is found in Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poetry collection of the same name. The 52-page book, reissued by Grove Press in 1996, is available at

Photo: MAD MEN’Don Draper (Jon Hamm) peruses a copy of MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY during Season 2 of the series.

by Frank O’Hara

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,
for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.
But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

PAINTING: “Sardines” by Michael Goldberg (1955), Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.)