Chez Jane By Frank O'Hara

The white chocolate jar full of petals
swills odds and ends around in a dizzying eye   
of four o’clocks now and to come. The tiger,   
marvellously striped and irritable, leaps   
on the table and without disturbing a hair   
of the flowers’ breathless attention, pisses   
into the pot, right down its delicate spout.
A whisper of steam goes up from that porcelain   
urethra. “Saint-Saëns!” it seems to be whispering,   
curling unerringly around the furry nuts   
of the terrible puss, who is mentally flexing.   
Ah be with me always, spirit of noisy   
contemplation in the studio, the Garden   
of Zoos, the eternally fixed afternoons!   
There, while music scratches its scrofulous   
stomach, the brute beast emerges and stands,   
clear and careful, knowing always the exact peril   
at this moment caressing his fangs with   
a tongue given wholly to luxurious usages;   
which only a moment before dropped aspirin   
in this sunset of roses, and now throws a chair   
in the air to aggravate the truly menacing.
Frank O’Hara, “Chez Jane” from Meditations in an Emergency. Copyright © 1957 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc., www.groveatlantic.com.

Source: Poetry (November 1954).

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