‘Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement. Ocean,
are you listening? The most beautiful part
of your body is wherever
your mother’s shadow falls.’

– Ocean Vuong, extract from Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong

 

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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
“You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
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 just
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.

– Frank O’Hara

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‘I wish I were reeling around Paris
instead of reeling around New York
I wish I weren’t reeling at all
it is Spring the ice has melted the Ricard is being poured
we are all happy and young and toothless
it is the same as old age
the only thing to do is simply continue
is that simple
yes, it is simple because it is the only thing to do
can you do it
yes, you can because it is the only thing to do’

– Frank O’Hara, extract from Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul

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I saw both of you
entwined by the wind
Moistened by the rough
tongue of desire
Your lactating breasts
together
Without breath
Like rose bushes drunk
on water’s delicacy
Like twins.
I saw both of you
lying down
On the hateful gold
of yellow flowers
Tearing apart your flesh
in furtive shadows
Skimming your
sleeping passions.
And like a tree
ashamed of its nudity
Alone, flat against
an evil sky,
I stood there like
a pitiful clown
with a ruffled heart.

– Joyce Mansour

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