Covering Frank O’Hara
Now when I walk around at lunchtime:
lines of sweat trace down our skin
and Coke bottles. We taste the last morsel
of the powdered sugar from authentic New Orleans
beignets and believe, in passing narrow alleyways,
that we have found some bliss in this place.
In some street, we mark it as memory,
a pinpoint on a map like the origins of the universe
stating in bold letters: You are here,
don’t forget it. I tell Danny I wear
a stainless steel band of stars on my right hand as if to say
everyone deserves to feel like the victor
even under this melting popsicle of a sun. He stares.
Says, you need better deodorant, laughs
and walks on.
I show him where they scrape
love out of a mixing bowl, heavy flour caking
the air, clinging to our pores. Grenoble lunches
taste different, maybe it’s the cooking oil, he states as fact.
These streets feel crowded, even as Parisians
declare the center of the universe is a two-hour train ride
from this nowhere city of mountains and science.
I lead us to a quieter space, a gesture
meant to say that we are conquerers
of a foreign land and moved on, despite taking nothing.
Yet, we’ll always feel connected
just as Audrey Tautou is somewhere in the country
dressing up like she’s Audrey Hepburn.
We settle for our imitations, I say as I twist
a ring on my left hand. And still, it feels like the city
will weep for our departure.
Everyone deserves to feel important.
Don’t you already feel that way? Danny asks
then, in the space of a breath, walks on.
I wonder how he felt, dying on Fire Island?
Danny thinks it’s morbid. I don’t.
The streets aligned in a grid, cut like fresh brownies,
squares and people everywhere.
We find lunch so impersonal here.
We feel like strangers on blocked pavement,
a silent type of love like New Wave.
An ambulance cut off the appendages of traffic
uptown and we wonder if the people inside,
perhaps on the cusp of blocked veins, bumping and slamming
with pothole motion, wonder about people like us
who wander around like the blind,
feeling lunchtime like ritual
knowing what it means when it’s enjoyable.
It feels like a cartoon day. I’m waiting
for a pig in a Versace suit jacket to tell me, That’s all, folks!
I look at Danny and think someone like Frank
might like this somber reflection unlike us,
from a Macy’s window display.
It’s all stopped feeling real, I say. Danny looks confused
and walks on.
Kyle Kineman currently writes and works in Kentucky. His work has previously appeared in Arcadia Magazine and The Dirty Napkin.