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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Frank O'Hara - As Planned

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don’t you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

O'Hara Nude with Boots

larry and frank.jpg

Larry Rivers - O'Hara Nude with Boots, 1954

 

In this taboo-busting, whimsical work from 1954, the poet Frank O'Hara, Rivers's close friend and sometimes lover, is revealed in full-length posture standing naked - a better term than nude - with his arms clasped on top of his head, gazing unabashedly at the viewer. He is wearing only leather combat boots, one foot propped up on a breeze block. Rivers painted a number of portraits of O'Hara, but this is by far the most provocative. 

This portrait reveals Rivers's raw talent as a portraitist and draughtsman, a talent which was unfashionable at a time when Abstract Expressionism still reigned supreme. Again, however, Rivers's rebellion was political as well as aesthetic: the overt homoeroticism of the work, that is, was particularly daring during the 1950s, the era not only of the Red Scare, but also of the so-called Lavender Scare. Being gay in 1950s America, just like being a Communist, was seen as a threat to national security, so much so that the Government launched a witch-hunt to out homosexuals and have them removed from their posts. Standing at 2.5 meters tall, this painting makes an imposing and provocative statement in an era long before personal identity - let alone gay identity - was a suitable subject for modern art. As art critic Ken Johnson explains, "[t]he way the young, muscular O'Hara stands with hands on his head and one foot up on a concrete block creates a casual sexual vitality that slyly subverts high-minded traditions of the academic nude." 

A closer look at the painting will reveal a witty dialogue between 'high' and 'low' cultural references. As Johnson suggests, the portrait mimics an Old Masters' painting in some aspects of its composition, but O'Hara also seems to be posing in the style of a contemporary pin-up. For the sitter himself, "what Larry was trying to do was keep it from being academic. But at the same time getting in the ring with [Theodore] Géricault," the French Romantic portraitist. O'Hara and Rivers's relationship was defined by a meeting of the high and low-brow. The pair were formidable intellectuals, who would spend much of their time discussing literature and art. But they were also party boys: O' Hara, in particular, was famous for cruising for sex in downtown New York.

Frank O'Hara - Song

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab

which is typical

and not just of modern life

 

mud clambers up the trellis of my nerves

must lovers of Eros end up with Venus

muss es sein? es muss nicht sein, I tell you

 

how I hate disease, it’s like worrying

that comes true

and it simply must not be able to happen

 

in a world where you are possible

my love

nothing can go wrong for us, tell me

Franz Kline & Frank O'Hara

franzfrank.png

I will always love you
though I never loved you

 

a boy smelling faintly of heather
staring up at your window

 

the passion that enlightens
and stills and cultivates, gone

 

while I sought your face
to be familiar in the blueness

 

or to follow your sharp whistle
around a corner into my light

 

that was love growing fainter
each time you failed to appear

 

I spent my whole self searching
love which I thought was you

 

it was mine so briefly
and I never knew it, or you went

 

I thought it was outside disappearing
but it is disappearing in my heart

 

like snow blown in a window
to be gone from the world

 

I will always love you.

_______________________________________

Featuring the work of 42 poets and artists, from Dylan Thomas to Frank O’Hara, and Helen Phillips to Willem de Kooning, the portfolio 21 Etchings and Poems, published in 1960, represents a noteworthy collaboration between the visual and literary arts. Each print closely integrates text and image, including a poem written in the hand of its author and imagery created through a wide range of innovative print techniques. Initiated by artist Peter Grippe, director of the renowned Atelier 17 print workshop, and the result of nearly ten years of effort, 21 Etchings and Poems is not only a landmark of mid-20th century American print publishing, but is unique in its inclusion of writers and artists from across the spectrum of 1950s cultural production.

Frank O'Hara - A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying “Hey! I’ve been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are
only the second poet I’ve ever chosen
to speak to personally
                                        so why
aren’t you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can’t hang around
Here all day.”

 

                   “Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal.”

 

“When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt” the Sun said
petulantly. “Most people are up
already waiting to see if I’m going
to put in an appearance.”
                                              I tried
to apologize “I missed you yesterday.”
“That’s better” he said “I didn’t
know you’d come out. You may be
wondering why I’ve come so close?”
“Yes” I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn’t burning me
anyway.

 

               “Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry. I see a lot
on my rounds and you’re okay. You may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you’re different. Now, I’ve heard some
say you’re crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other
crazy poets think you’re a boring
reactionary. Not me.

 

                                  Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You’ll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.

 

                                 If you don’t appear
at all one day they think you’re lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.

 

And don’t worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto. Whatever you were
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting
for you to get to work.

 

                                       And now that you
are making your own days, so to speak,
even if no one reads you but me
you won’t be depressed. Not
everyone can look up, even at me. It
hurts their eyes.”

 

                               “Oh Sun, I’m so grateful to you!”

 

“Thanks and remember I’m watching. It’s
easier for me to speak to you out
here. I don’t have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but
you ought to look up more often.

 

                                                            And
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space. That
is your inclination, known in the heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.

 

                                            Maybe we’ll
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am especially fond. Go back to sleep now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem
in that brain of yours as a farewell.”

 

“Sun, don’t go!” I was awake
at last. “No, go I must, they’re calling
me.”
        “Who are they?”
                                     Rising he said “Some
day you’ll know. They’re calling to you
too.” Darkly he rose, and then I slept.

Frank O'Hara - Poem

Instant coffee with slightly sour cream

in it, and a phone call to the beyond

which doesn’t seem to be coming any nearer.

“Ah daddy, I wanna stay drunk many days”

on the poetry of a new friend

my life held precariously in the seeing

hands of others, their and my impossibilities.

Is this love, now that the first love

has finally died, where there were no impossibilities?

Frank O'Hara - Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

 

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

 

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

 

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

 

 

Frank O´Hara reading his poem "Having a coke with you" in his flat in New York in 1966, shortly before his accidental death. Taken from - "USA: Poetry: Frank O'Hara" produced and directed by Richard Moore, for KQED and WNET. Originally aired on September 1, 1966.

Frank O'Hara - Meditations in an Emergency

          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. 

          However, 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. 

          My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time; they are indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and disloyal, so that no one trusts me. I am always looking away. Or again at something after it has given me up. It makes me restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them still. If only I had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I would stay at home and do something. It’s not that I am curious. On the contrary, I am bored but it’s my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above the earth. And lately, so great has theiranxiety become, I can spare myself little sleep. 

          Now there is only one man I love to kiss when he is unshaven. Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How discourage her?) 

          St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness which is like midnight in Dostoevsky. How am I to become a legend, my dear? I’ve tried love, but that hides you in the bosom of another and I am always springing forth from it like the lotus—the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must not be distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, “to keep the filth of life away,” yes, there, even in the heart, where the filth is pumped in and courses and slanders and pollutes and determines. I will my will, though I may become famous for a mysterious vacancy in that department, that greenhouse. 

          Destroy yourself, if you don’t know! 

          It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you, beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It's like a final chapter no one reads because the plot is over. 

          “Fanny Brown is run away—scampered off with a Cornet of Horse; I do love that little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho’ She has vexed me by this Exploit a little too. —Poor silly Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her. —I wish She had a good Whipping and 10,000 pounds.” —Mrs. Thrale. 

       I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest suntans. I’ll be back, I'll re-emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don’t want me to go where you go, so I go where you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon, there’s a lot ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the lock and the knob turns.

Frank O'Hara - A Step Away from Them

It’s my lunch hour, so I go

for a walk among the hum-colored

cabs. First, down the sidewalk

where laborers feed their dirty

glistening torsos sandwiches

and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets

on. They protect them from falling

bricks, I guess. Then onto the

avenue where skirts are flipping

above heels and blow up over

grates. The sun is hot, but the

cabs stir up the air. I look

at bargains in wristwatches. There

are cats playing in sawdust.

                                          On

to Times Square, where the sign

blows smoke over my head, and higher

the waterfall pours lightly. A

Negro stands in a doorway with a

toothpick, languorously agitating.

A blonde chorus girl clicks: he

smiles and rubs his chin. Everything

suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of

a Thursday.

                Neon in daylight is a

great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would

write, as are light bulbs in daylight.

I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S   

CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of

Federico Fellini, è bell’ attrice.

And chocolate malted. A lady in

foxes on such a day puts her poodle

in a cab.

             There are several Puerto

Ricans on the avenue today, which

makes it beautiful and warm. First

Bunny died, then John Latouche,

then Jackson Pollock. But is the

earth as full as life was full, of them?

And one has eaten and one walks,

past the magazines with nudes

and the posters for BULLFIGHT and

the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,

which they’ll soon tear down. I

used to think they had the Armory

Show there.

                A glass of papaya juice

and back to work. My heart is in my

pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

Frank O'Hara - 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