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 for 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’m telling you about it

–Frank O’Hara




  1. Select a mundane activity as title. Having a _____ With You
  2. Use lists, as in the resorts like Biarritz.
  3. Include exotic allusions: Traversera de Gracia
  4. List mundane items & use anaphora as in partly because
  5. Include a surreal or magical moment: tree breathing through its spectacles
  6. Refer to museums & artists & famous paintings: Frick, “Nude Descending…”, Impressionism.
  7. Write in prose (include two short two line stanzas) Conclude in a muted, ho hum, understated & conversational manner.
















good art is irrational, does not fly into explication or hobnob easily

with the abstract, is neither drizzled nor collaged with intentions.


Even as Latin scholars insist on burning Rome again, seldom tedious or scholarly —

good art startles — antithetical to pie charts, memos, pablum & hosts of angels.


Art is love once removed: has to do with warmth, your lean body

& size 14 feet. Our walk back in the woods, that time on the cliff,

Asilomar, then Verona, Beijing, Chattanooga’s Big Band Dance Fever.


Love is aware of the boondocks, Tennessee, long lines & long distance.

Lives now on 2nd Ave, sends whimsey & hugs, while art tells its story,

is tender, while you laugh like a tenor, flirt like a boy & play for keeps.

–Sally Naylor





  1. State with authority, “The Zen Master Says___________________.”
  2. Define an abstraction like art. Contrast it to something like scholarly research.
  3. Continue definition become very specific about some loved person or object.
  4. Personify abstraction: Love lives on 2nd
  5. Conclude with list of images: kinesthetic (tender) auditory (tenor) visual (flirt) & a cliché (play for keeps)



The man drives as closely to my car

as he can without making contact.

His truck window is down.

He is taking my right of way,

and I’m driving home, already crying,

from the audiologist’s office.

I’ve turned on the music

and have just been thinking

that somewhere in Denmark,

an engineer lays her head

on a pillow filled, perhaps,

with eiderdown, her mind stuffed

with equations she mastered

in order to write the code

for the music setting on my

new hearing aids. They cost me

as much as a used car

and will not rejuvenate

my cilia, cannot rebuild

this foundation that gradually

crumbles, but they have

resurrected, for this moment,

the voice of the trumpet

and polished its bright tones.

I cannot conceive

of how the years she bent

to her math books resulted

in this flashing beauty,

but I lean on it

the way a person leans

on a crutch when her knee

has given out, the way

I lean on Telemann who wrote

this concerto almost 300 years ago,

each note big enough

to compensate—across time—for loss,

for the man passing slowly by,

menace blaring from his eyes,

as, triumphant, he raises

his middle finger like a baton.


–Francesca Bell



Assignment: Write your own model for this poem

Three Poems to Model