Day 24 – 30 Days, 30 Readings: Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You”

Frank O'Hara
Frank O’Hara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This one has been a request of a friend’s long before April and National Poetry Month pounced upon me, and since I was eager to include Frank O’Hara in this collection, this just worked out. Rachel Bunting introduced me to Frank’s reading of his own piece a little while ago, and it’s usually a bad idea to listen to someone else before I record. However, it did help me with the pronunciation in those first lines.

I love how his complete absence of punctuation speeds up the poem into something of a breathless release of emotion. I did slow it down just a bit so as not to stumble over words. The imagery is from two weeks ago in New York City with our dear Northern Irish Family. All photos, except the two of Frank O’Hara were taken by David of David Alexander Photo and copyright belongs to him. So Mercop, here is your request, dedicated to my dear friends across the Pond.

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 fluoresent 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 marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

-Frank O’Hara

9 Comments Add yours

  1. keatsbabe says:

    I expect you know you have missed the ‘r’ out of frank in your title by now?!!!! Anyway this is a terrific poem. I have never read any of O’Hara’s work before. Will get the anthologies out!


    1. sonofwalt says:

      I just woke up and found this message. No, his name really is Fank, as in, “Fank you so much for pointing out my error.” LOL Seriously, thank you. I was horrified for a second. How I could miss a typo like that! But at least it was in the title (easy fix) and not in the video. 🙂 Thank you, dear. I’m glad to have introduced you to it then. I LOVE my quirky, excited little Fank, er I mean, Frank. 😉


  2. rebunting says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. LOVE. So excited. This is one of my favorite Frank O’Hara poems, and you read it so well. xx


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Aw, thank you so much, Rachel. I love this one too. I’m so glad you like it. David’s pictures just came together splendidly with the text, and in such odd and lovely ways, which made me so happy.


  3. Yes! Such a marvelous reading–and the photos pair with images from the poem so perfectly.


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Thank you! I really enjoyed how this one came together. The visuals were inspired. Many thanks to David Alexander.


  4. Ian Moone says:

    You read so well, I have been recording and it’s harder than I thought it would be, Keep tripping over words


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Thank you so much. Keep at it. Some of these come off in just a couple of takes, but a lot of times I can do quite a few before I have one I like. Brian was giving me some good advice, and that is to keep going even if I stumble. Sometimes you can save what feels like a blunder and it could be a really great sounding reading. I’m trying to pretend I am live more, without the chance of re-recording. It’s interesting how it changes my approach.


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