...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

July 07, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Inspired by Ginger and Candace's recent post about their fabulous meeting in the city of New York, i decided to select a poem from my favorite New York poet, Frank O'Hara.

The following is one of O'Hara's best known poems, and it deserves to be. Reading it, one can imagine what it must have been like to be young and hip in the city back in 1959.

"Lady," by the way, is the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, who died on July 17, 1959 at New York's Metropolitan Hospital.

The Day Lady Died

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

Posted by annika, Jul. 7, 2004 |
Rubric: Poetry


Nice poem.

Wish you could have been there in NY with us!!

Posted by: ginger on Jul. 7, 2004

"and I don't know the people who will feed me"

Magnificent line.

Do keep up the poetry Wednesdays. I might even join you.

Posted by: Hugo on Jul. 7, 2004