Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Members of the family group of sandhill cranes did this to themselves a lot on the days they visited our meadow. I couldn't tell whether they were scratching or grooming or oiling. They move their beaks up and down as if scratching an itch. I watch and also marvel at their useful, twig-thin legs.

Something else marvelous is the poetry of Frank O'Hara, author of the beloved Lunch Poems ("I did this, I did that . . .")
Here is O'Hara's ?Why I Am Not a Painter" selected by Helen Vendler for the Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry.

Why I Am Not a Painter

I am not a painter. I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
"Sit down and have a drink" he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. "You have SARDINES in it."
"Yes, it needed something there."
"Oh." I go and the days go bu
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. "Where's SARDINES?"
All that's left is jusst
letters, "It was too much," Mike says.
But me? One day I am thinking of
a color:orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by, It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven't mentioned
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike's painting, called SARDINES.

Pages 218-219

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