Friday, January 19, 2007

Poem for the Day

"A Step Away from Them" is not my favorite Frank O'Hara poem. It is proof (along with his James Dean poems and "The Day Lady Died") that the concerns of the elegy are not the dead but the living. It does, however, work its way to one of my favorite endings.

And that's what's been consuming my thoughts lately...ending the poem. I have little difficulty getting into the poem, starting it, helping it move along wherever it wants to go, but finishing it? Ooh, dear! I feel lost most times. I'm so often startled by others' ability to end a poem in "just the right way," so that when it's finished I feel simultaneously surprised and absolutely certain that it could end in no other way.

So I'll throw this out there: What's your favorite ending of a poem? What are your thoughts on endings in your own work?

A Step Away From Them

It's my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored
cabs. First, down the sidewalk
where laborers feed their dirty
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets
on. They protect them from falling
bricks, I guess. The onto the
avenue where skirts are flipping
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the
cabs stir up the air. I look
at bargains in wristwatches. There
are cats playing in sawdust

to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.

Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET'S
CORNER. Giulietta Maina, wife of
Federico Fellini, e bell'attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.

There are several Puerto
Ricans on the avenue today, which
makes it beautiful and warm. First
Bunny died, then John LaTouche,
then Jackson Pollock. But is the
earth as full of life was full, of them?
And one has eaten and one walks,
past the magazines with nudes
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhatten Storage Warehouse
which they'll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
Show there.

A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

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