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A City Winter Analysis

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

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I understand the boredom of the clerks

fatigue shifting like dunes within their eyes

a frightful nausea gumming up the works

that once was thought aggression in disguise.

Do you remember? then how lightly dead

seemed the moon when over factories

it languid slid like a barrage of lead

above the heart, the fierce inventories

of desire. Now women wander our dreams

carrying money and to our sleep's shame

our hands twitch not for swift blood-sunk triremes

nor languorous white horses nor ill fame,

  but clutch the groin that clouds a pallid sky

  where tow'rs are sinking in their common eye.


My ship is flung upon the gutter's wrist

and cries for help of storm to violate

that flesh your curiosity too late

has flushed. The stem your garter tongue would twist

has sunk upon the waveless bosom's mist,

thigh of the city, apparition, hate,

and the tower whose doves have, delicate,

fled into my blood where they are not kissed.

You have left me to the sewer's meanwhile,

and I have answered the sea's open wish

to love me as a bonfire's watchful hand

guards red the shore and guards the hairy strand,

our most elegant lascivious bile,

my ship sinking beneath the gutter's fish.


How can I then, my dearest winter lay,

disgorge the tasty worm that eats me up

falling onto the stem of a highway

whose ardent rainbow is the spoon's flat cup

and in the vilest of blue suited force

enamored of the heated needle's arm

finds the ministrant an own tongue's remorse

so near the blood and still so far from harm,

thus to be eaten up and gobbled down

volcanoes of speedometers, the strike

that heats the iris into flame and flow'rs

the panting chalice so a turning pike:

  you are not how the gods refused to die,

  and I am scarred forever neath the eye.


What are my eyes? if they must feed me, rank

with forgetting, in the jealous forest

of lustrous blows, so luminously blank

through smoke and in the light. All faint, at rest,

yet I am racing towards the fear that kills

them off, friends and lovers, hast'ning through tears

like alcohol high in the throat of hills

and hills of night, alluring! their black cheers

falling upon my ears like nails. And there

the bars grow thick with onanists and camps

and bivouacs of bears with clubs, are fair

with their blows, deal death beneath purple lamps

  and to me! I run! closer always move,

  crying my name in fields of dead I love.


I plunge deep within this frozen lake

whose mirrored fastnesses fill up my heart,

where tears drift from frivolity to art

all white and slobbering, and by mistake

are the sky. I'm no whale to cruise apart

in fields impassive of my stench, my sake,

my sign to crushing seas that fall like fake

pillars to crash! to sow as wake my heart

and don't be niggardly. The snow drifts low

and yet neglects to cover me, and I

dance just ahead to keep my heart in sight.

How like a queen, to seek with jealous eye

the face that flees you, hidden city, white

swan. There's no art to free me, blinded so.


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