How to Get There

alfred eisenstaedt

How to Get There

by Frank O’Hara

White the October air, no snow, easy to breathe
beneath the sky, lies, lies everywhere writhing and
clutching and tangling, it is not easy to breathe
lies building their tendrils into dim figures
who disappear down corridors in west-side apartments
into childhood’s proof of being wanted, not
abandoned, kidnapped
betrayal staving off loneliness, I see the fog lunge in
and hide it
where are you?
here I am on the sidewalk
under the moonlike lamplight thinking how
precious moss is
so unique and greenly crushable if you can find it
on the north side of the tree where the fog binds you
and then, tearing apart into soft white lies,
spreads its disease
through the primal night of an everlasting winter
which nevertheless has heat in tubes, west-side and
and its intricate individual pathways of white
by the ringing of telephone bells beside which
someone sits in
silence denying their own number, never given out!
like the sound of troika bells rushing past suffering
in the first storm, it is snowing now,
it is already too late
the snow will go away, but nobody will be there

police cordons for lying political dignitaries ringing too
the world becomes a jangle
from the index finger
to the vast empty houses filled with people,
their echoes

of lies and the tendrils of fog trailing softly around
their throats
now the phone can be answered, nobody calling,
only an echo
all can confess to be home and waiting, all is the same
and we drift into the clear sky enthralled
by our disappointment
never to be alone again
never to be loved
sailing through space: didn’t I have you once for my
West Side?
for a couple of hours, but I am not that person

[copyright Frank O’Hara, 1960]
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