Venice Upon Oyster Bay

‘Tis suburbia, of a more intense sort than any other of the various elsewheres I’ve lived. Yield signs, flags everywhere. But also gardens, hydrangeas, bunnies. And some of the houses are quite lovely. Did I mention the bounce houses? Sarah and I counted no fewer than five such structures within a one-block radius of my sister’s house this afternoon as we returned from lunch. To live this way is to affirm castles on canals in some uprooted, replanted Venice Upon Oyster Bay. Despite reprehensible “Back the Blue” stickers on the backs of pickups and other bones one might pick with the place, why bother? Others have picked them clean, them bones, yet there they remain whether we attend to them or not. As do the seagulls, the waves, the motorboats. A cool breeze tickles behind my ear and down my neck. The wonder of a quiet moment. Thumbing the pages of Frank O’Hara’s collected poems, I happen upon “Autobiographia Literaria.” The poem reminds me of my own beginning, early stanzas equal to my own early sorrow. But with the affirmation of its final stanza, the poem arrives and I arise transformed, accepting both the good and the bad with equanimity.

Having a Coke With You

Inspired by José Esteban Muñoz’s reading of Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke With You,” I decide to include O’Hara’s Collected Poems in a bag of books that I carry north with me on my trip to New York. O’Hara is, after all, a defining figure of the New York School. His is a poetry of parties, acts, and encounters. A friend writes about him in her book. Words of hers capture my thoughts for a moment — nay, linger still, all these hours later, here in the future, among what has become of the words of he who is lost in the story. I imagine again the characters in the O’Hara poem, “drifting back and forth / between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” If one’s attention is not to hold and be held by such things, one must actively turn away.