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In Memory of My Feelings—Frank O’Hara

She could find reason

anywhere if she looked

for it. The clock told her

to get up. She got up. She ate.

The plot is the one thing we know,

said Mandelstam.

Irritation gave way

to something else. She steered

her mind to the side street, inside,

where what some call untidiness.

What some call connections.

Reason wasn’t the hinge

on which memory swung.

A truism escapes its cage.

A bark brings you back to it. You are

who you are.

We're right now, said the tick to the tock.

The self was one

of many. The knave

was the man down the block.

She could find meaning

in the metaphor of a missing knife.

She was cold. She reached for her coat.

I’ve never seen anyone

like you. The truism was true. That will do.

Jasper Johns, "In Memory of My Feelings—

Frank O’Hara," Oil on canvas with objects, 1961


Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is the author of seven collections of poems. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.


The Brooklyn Rail


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