I want to be like Frank O'Hara
but I’ve never leaned unhurriedly
on a club doorway listening
to Billie Holiday. Most of my time
in this city I’ve been a mother and I know
I’ve spent too much time in Sainsbury’s
Dalston branch even if it does
have its own inimitable vibe
and a huge range of root vegetables.
My own roots sink deep in the garden and
I can’t bear to leave
in case I miss a single bloom
or one of those odd powder-blue butterflies
passing through on its way to Hackney Marshes.
I swing in the hammock to the echo of police sirens,
but I’ve never leaned in a club doorway,
my poems in my pocket like Frank.
My books are stuffed with shopping lists
and I can’t believe that’s Frank.
Although once at 11 a.m. looking
for the new GP surgery in Green Lanes,
I stuck my head in the doorway
of a Turkish men’s club and they scattered
from their chess like leaves.
I felt a bit dangerous then, like Elvis in ’56.
I think Frank would have liked it,
the way one brave man approached me slowly,
his palms of his hands held out as if
he was about to catch something.
"I want to be like Frank O'Hara" by Martina Evans, from The Windows of Graceland: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2016). Reproduced with permission of the publisher.