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Ann Arbor Variations Analysis



Author: poem of Frank O'Hara Type: poem Views: 0

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1

Wet heat drifts through the afternoon

like a campus dog, a fraternity ghost

waiting to stay home from football games.

The arches are empty clear to the sky.



Except for the leaves: those lashes of our

thinking and dreaming and drinking sight.

The spherical radiance, the Old English

look, the sum of our being, "hath perced



to the roote" all our springs and falls

and now rolls over our limpness, a daily

dragon. We lose our health in a love

of color, drown in a fountain of myriads,



as simply as children. It is too hot,

our birth was given up to screaming. Our

life on these street lawns seems silent.

The leaves chatter their comparisons



to the wind and the sky fills up

before we are out of bed. O infinite

our siestas! adobe effigies in a land

that is sick of us and our tanned flesh.



The wind blows towards us particularly

the sobbing of our dear friends on both

coasts. We are sick of living and afraid

that death will not be by water, o sea.



2

Along the walks and shaded ways

pregnant women look snidely at children.

Two weeks ago they were told, in these



selfsame pools of trefoil, "the market

for emeralds is collapsing," "chlorophyll

shines in your eyes," "the sea's misery



is progenitor of the dark moss which hides

on the north side of trees and cries."

What do they think of slim kids now?



and how, when the summer's gong of day

and night slithers towards their sweat

and towards the nest of their arms



and thighs, do they feel about children

whose hides are pearly with days of swimming?

Do they mistake these fresh drops for tears?



The wind works over these women constantly!

trying, perhaps, to curdle their milk

or make their spring unseasonably fearful,



season they face with dread and bright eyes,

The leaves, wrinkled or shiny like apples,

wave women courage and sigh, a void temperature.



3

The alternatives of summer do not remove

us from this place. The fainting into skies

from a diving board, the express train to

Detroit's damp bars, the excess of affection

on the couch near an open window or a Bauhaus

fire escape, the lazy regions of stars, all

are strangers. Like Mayakovsky read on steps

of cool marble, or Yeats danced in a theatre

of polite music. The classroon day of dozing

and grammar, the partial eclipse of the head

in the row in front of the head of poplars,

sweet Syrinx! last out the summer in a stay

of iron. Workmen loiter before urinals, stare

out windows at girders tightly strapped to clouds.

And in the morning we whimper as we cook

an egg, so far from fluttering sands and azure!



4

The violent No! of the sun

burns the forehead of hills.

Sand fleas arrive from Salt Lake

and most of the theatres close.



The leaves roll into cigars, or

it seems our eyes stick together

in sleep. O forest, o brook of

spice, o cool gaze of strangers!



the city tumbles towards autumn

in a convulsion of tourists

and teachers. We dance in the dark,

forget the anger of what we blame



on the day. Children toss and murmur

as a rumba blankets their trees and

beckons their stars closer, older, now.

We move o'er the world, being so much here.



It's as if Poseidon left off counting

his waters for a moment! In the fields

the silence is music like the moon.

The bullfrogs sleep in their hairy caves.



across the avenue a trefoil lamp

of the streets tosses luckily.

The leaves, finally, love us! and

moonrise! we die upon the sun.






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