Apart from love

Apart from love

I read Frank O’Hara
           who never made it
to the twenty-first century
           but I imagine
he would have loved it
           and all the people in it
all the artists and musicians
           and poets and writers
busy inventing it
           just as they always did
in centuries gone by
           time immemorial

Listen to Duke Ellington
           and you can appreciate
Frank O’Hara’s ear
           or to Rachmaninoff
and you get a real sense
           of O’Hara’s nimble fingers
shuffling along the keyboard
           or slip into the gallery
to cast a cold eye over
           a Rauschenberg or a Pollock
and it will tell you something
           of what it was like
to see the world through
           O’Hara’s blue-tinted eyes

and then in a poem
           he uses the phrase
apart from love
           and you realise that
that line is a great divide
           a real line in the sand

that apart from love
           to Frank at least
nothing else really mattered
           not culture not wealth
not status not ambition
           not age not youth
nothing really matter
           apart from love
his poetics
           in a nutshell
and I guess
           I just have to agree

John Lyons

The power of one word


The power of one word

I have a mental picture
           of the poet Frank O’Hara sitting
in his apartment
           on a glorious New York summer’s day
He’s wearing a crisp
           white shirt and new sneakers
and is nervously tapping his fingers
           on his desk in time
to a phrase from Rachmaninoff
           that has been running
through his head
           ever since he woke

Through an open window
           he can also hear the city making
its usual cacophonous dust
           he also has an eye on the clock
: the friend who is giving him
           the ride to the beach is late
and he has so been
           looking forward to the trip

Just then the doorbell rings
           and at once
he is overcome
           by the sudden surge of love
in his heart and struggles
           to get to his feet
fearing he might drown
           in the emotion

John Lyons