New York University – April 7, 1964

The Inca Mystery [Excerpt from 3 Poems About Kenneth Koch]

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The Inca Mystery

Don’t tell me to smile, oh flamboyant egrets! not
while I’m pining naked on the Spanish Steps
of an amusement at a corpse’s Rabbinical youthfulness.
He kicked off in the line of duty, citizen too,
while Kenneth, oh woe! was in the Hotel Imperial Colon,
Mexico City, watching the city gradually vanish.
Oh cuffs of Kenneth, are you weeping a sooty miasma?
He is dangerously close by air, and we expect him
a day before he arrives, delicious day of overcast.
Two dope addicts did him in. Will Kenneth catch them?
Has he learned about addiction in Tamazunchale,
and fiends! are there any left in fragrant Miami?
They are hunting for the dead cop’s wife in Jacksonville
but she’s secretly in Lexington, Ky., taking the cure.
Oh Kenneth, hurry, I do wish they’d be nicer to the Jews
in Delaware, I don’t think the dope fiends are hiding
there, they’re disguised as feathers in Philadelphia.
I know and Kenneth will know. Gee, I’m really depressed.
My black back. And now the telephone. “Hello. Kenneth?”

The Inca Mystery

From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Trout Quintet

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The Trout Quintet

Okay let’s go swimming
I don’t want to
well then don’t
I want some peanut butter
I want some cream soda

last night the moon seemed to say something
it said “eat”
I said there’s nothing
it mentioned plankton
but it had all drifted away

do you think the sand
kills stones
(keep rippling)
no I don’t think that
I’m still rippling

well who ever said anything’s
done at Radio City Music Hall
except the bolero
but who’s ever seen it
who asked

you will think the light
comes from somewhere else
but it comes from the floor
otherwise you wouldn’t see it
you’re always looking down

after the swim I sat
and rubbed the sand into my crotch
I want to go
to Spain
where the olive trees

The Trout Quintet

From Poems Retrieved. Copyright © 1977 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Grey Fox Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

SUNY, Buffalo – September 25, 1964

Here is a selection of four poems read by Frank O’Hara at a poetry reading recorded at the Lockwood Memorial Library, SUNY, Buffalo on September 25, 1964.

Metaphysical Poem

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Metaphysical Poem

When do you want to go
I’m not sure I want to go there
where do you want to go
any place
I think I’d fall apart any place else
well I’ll go if you really want to
I don’t particularly care
but you’ll fall apart any place else
I can just go home
I don’t really mind going there
but I don’t want to force you to go there
you won’t be forcing me I’d just as soon
I wouldn’t be able to stay long anyway
maybe we could go somewhere nearer
I’m not wearing a jacket
just like you weren’t wearing a tie
well I didn’t say we had to go
I don’t care whether you’re wearing one
we don’t really have to do anything
well all right let’s not
okay I’ll call you
yes call me

Metaphysical Poem

From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)

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Poem

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)

From Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. City Lights Books. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Political Poem on a Last Line of Pasternak’s

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Political Poem on a Last Line of Pasternak's  

  'A certain person's epoch's burning'
  religious philosophy would like assurances
  there are lesser problems which
  minimum number of standees exhortations
  and analyses the irony is that despite
  ernment partnership
                                 Mr. Meyer is on the
  in some degree the movement          and again
  at the moment 163 countries
  microwave (wireless) or land line or
  can A T & T be regulated?
                                           yet
  at this moment Marburg is forgotten
  the light drifts slowly through
  vinelike curtains of white while up
  the stairs someone is pouting in tangled
  sleep across the grass and boring little
  red breasts trot and thump on worms
  the grass soothes itself and purrs onward
  into the street under the house over the
  studio the wind reaches for where
  lucid blossoms where in spring the
  Polish pain of snow has melted the
  statistics have become keyboards and
  scratches on an old Chabrier record
  though the death is dressing as always before
  an enormous mirror which isn't the sea
  how do you get to Spain and eat grapes and only grapes
Political Poem on a Last Line of Pasterak's

From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Poem (Hoopla! yah yah yah)

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Poem

Hoopla! yah yah yah
in the concentration camp            white hope
we always flicked it off that way    hot lead
to show the melody of Informers      a banana bandana and your
and then the spangled eyelids        what the heap said to the eagle
closed their mouths for              and then the news
a moment of thought-out noise        I want nothing of
"a gossipy novel can sink a ship"
and the billboard said               "Charlie Brown you are a traitor"
and all the heads agreed sagely
it's better to be known only         eclipsed ugliness
to your (soi disant) lover           he's nice to have around dissaproval
                what we will often wonder about, and long
Poem (Hoopla! yah yah yah

From Poems Retrieved. Copyright © 1977 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Grey Fox Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

USA: Poetry

This recording is an audio excerpt from the TV program USA: Poetry: Frank O’Hara. This episode was the 11th in a series of interviews and readings, produced and directed by Richard Moore, for KQED-TV and WNET. This segment of the program was filmed on March 5, 1966 in New York City at O’Hara’s home. The show originally aired on September 1, 1966.

Song (Is it dirty)

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Song

Is it dirty
does it look dirty
that’s what you think of in the city

does it just seem dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

someone comes along with a very bad character
he seems attractive. is he really. yes very
he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes

that’s what you think of in the city
run your finger along your no-moss mind
that’s not a thought that’s soot

and you take a lot of dirt off someone
is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

Song (Is it dirty)

From Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. City Lights Books. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Podcast

Part 1

Edward Mendelson talks with Sasha Weiss about Frank O’Hara.

September 15, 2008 – 18 mins. / Size: 17 MB
Download Mp3 from nybooks.com
Click link to listen or right-click link (or option-click
on a Mac) and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your hard drive.

Also available for download on iTunes

Part 2

Edward Mendelson reads selections from Frank O’Hara’s work.

  • “Poem” (Lana Turner has collapsed!)
  • “Anxiety”
  • “Cohasset”
  • “Little Elegy for Antonio Machado”
  • “Aus einem April”
  • “To the Film Industry in Crisis”

September 15, 2008 – 9 mins. / 8.79 MB
Download Mp3 from nybooks.com
Click link to listen or right-click link (or option-click
on a Mac) and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your hard drive.

Museum of Modern Art – Think Modern

Modern Poets: Frank O’Hara

“This program features poets John Ashbery and Bill Berkson, artist Alfred Leslie, and Museum Archivist Michelle Elligott as they share their memories of O’Hara and his love for poetry and art during his time at MoMA.”

November 30, 2006 – 61 mins. / 66 MB
Download Mp3 from MoMA.org
Click link to listen or right-click link (or option-click
on a Mac) and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your hard drive.

Also available as a podcast through

Poetry Reading at the Museum of Modern Art

Frank O’Hara: Selected Poems at Lunchtime

Participants include poets Lee Ann Brown, Dan Chiasson, Hettie Jones, Vincent Katz and Philip Schultz.

July 16, 2008 – 72 mins. / 67 MB
Download Mp3 from MoMA.org
Click link to listen or right-click link (or option-click
on a Mac) and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your hard drive.

Also available as a podcast through

99% Invisible

Episode 59 – Some Other Sign that People Do Not Totally Regret Life

Go to 99percentinvisible.org to learn more about this episode and to see a photo detail of Siah Armajani’s metal and bronze fence at Battery Park City, NYC.