Poet on fire escape

The best thing – indeed the only redeeming feature – of a snippy and essentially homophobic review in the New York Times of the new Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara (edited by Mark Ford) is this photograph, taken in 1958 by Harry Redl. If you really want to read what someone called William Logan thinks of O’Hara – when you could be reading the man himself – you can go and look up the review itself. In the meantime, the piece below is the third section of his Ann Arbor Variations, and contains a fleeting reference to a fire escape.

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!
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