Annotation of Frank O'Hara's 'Poem'

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is an annotation of one of my favorite poets ambiguously titled "poem".

Submitted: September 26, 2011

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Submitted: September 26, 2011

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poem

Frank ohara

 

Light clarity avocado salad in the morning

after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is

to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness,

since what is done is done and forgiveness isn't love

and love is love nothing can ever go wrong

although things can get irritating boring and dispensable

(in the imagination) but not really for love

though a block away you feel distant the mere presence

changes everything like a chemical dropped on paper

and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement

I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathing

 

 

In terms of structure, I like how O’Hara has organized the line breaks. His line breaks are significant and seem to alter the meaning of the phrase used, invoking more ambiguity and open interpretation. The mentioning of love and forgiveness is beautifully convoluted and fragmented, reminiscent of a stream of consciousness. It fits with the meandering, frustrated tone that can almost be regarded as rant-like, and dominated by youth. The lines are not capitalized, sans the first and last one, which give the poem some sense of order.

There isn’t a lot of strong imagery but there is a strong sense of character from author. The reference to the “terrible things” is vague and never elaborated on. The author’s regard of his own moral self appears to be self-deprecating, but he somehow manages to find a loophole in his sinful behavior.

He seems to fall somewhere between an optimist and cynic (the optimism is seen in love and the cynicism is seem in his resentment and regret of his actions of the past) his mistakes are never fully fixed, it seems, but his line of thinking is continuous albeit contradictory. The opening line alludes to avocado, in “light clarity avocado salad”. Avocados, at least to me, are a cleansing food. They are a sobering food. They wake me up and clear my mind and body. These avocados seem to provide some sort of solace from last night’s intoxication (these “terrible things”). This seems to be the roof of his self-deprecation, or at least a side effect of it. Whatever these acts are, we do not know, only that he implies some sort of negativity with them. The author realizes that your actions have consequences, hence the forgiveness that is never fully completed. He is realistic in this sense, but doesn’t seem to be content with it. The process seems to be cyclical with his description of it as “irritating boring and dispensable)/ he puts no false hope in anything, but mentions that is it in the imagination. Since it is in our minds, it is not fully tangible or real, and still has the potential to be vibrant, or alive again. Maybe this is what ultimately saves him and lets him redeem himself in the morning with the simple gratification of an avocado salad, so he doesn’t need any other form of validation.

“A block away” meters the distance referred to. The use of the word block gives me a city nostalgia, the distance he describes, since he alluded to love earlier I can feel that it is a distance from yourself (not knowing yourself or being confused, such as an identity crisis), or distance from the outside world, feeling like they don't know what’s going on inside, and the city vocabulary used enhances the urban bustle that makes people feel lost in a fast world.

He alludes that everything changes like a chemical dropped n paper. This is a pure reference to science, but it automatically brings to mind a drug reference, specifically hallucinogens, such as LSD. I believe this means the author is trying to communicate his state of digest, describe this distance that the feels. He feels alien to himself, to the world around him, nothing is as it seems, and everything is overwhelming, not sure whether its a good trip or a bad trip

His thoughts disappear in this trip, does he return to the clarity of the avocado salad or is this a different state of emptiness, better or worse? The way that he explains this steel makes it ambiguous. This quiet brings to mind uneasiness in the stomach, some sort of gut uncertainty. Yet this uncertainty, ironically enough, is the only concrete thing that he is sure of. This makes the reader thing that this excitement is the adrenaline rush of anticipation for something; he then says that this excitement is enhanced by his breathing. Breathing, when broken down, is what feeds life. The awareness of his living self fuels his excitement. He is eager but to be alive but nervous to take the next step , and maybe this the reason for the poem’s anticipatory tone. It is not of a certain event, but of life itself’s nonsensical, unpredictable fashion.

 

 

 


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