Frank O’Hara | ‘Having a Coke with You’

I’ve been dabbling in & out of poetry lately, perhaps missing the days when I was getting my soul sistah neo-soul movement on, and embracing my love for spoken word. Those days are long behind me, but perhaps maybe I’ll start writing some pieces again.

Even if I don’t go back to performing, at least I can write down my thoughts in an abstract expression.

Poetry is something that has always caught my attention, so when I was watching Beastly the other day, I remembered just how amazing Frank O’Hara is. I’m an English major, so I’ve been exposed to his work in the past. But watching Beastly surely reminded me how awesome “Having a Coke With You” is.

Over the years people have derived various meanings from the poem, especially relaying the details that Frank O’Hara was homosexual and was actually referencing his partner. That is surely evident within some of the lines, but the overall message is not one based on a homosexual relationship. The message is one of love, sharing a coke with someone, and realizing that you would rather stare at them instead of some of the best artwork in the world.

It’s as romantic as simply saying, “you’re my favorite work of art.”

“Having a Coke With You” is such a beautiful poem that truly deserves being a favorite poem of many, even those who don’t indulge in poetry. It’s not overcomplicated, yet it’s not dull & lifeless. Frank O’Hara perfectly blends emotion and imagery to craft a story of love in “Having a Coke With You.”

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Watch Frank O’Hara read the poem, at the bottom of this post….

Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

Frank O’Hara

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