back toJacket2

Ron Koertge


Surrounded by juvenilia, memorabilia, and many other things ending in a, David Lehman is at MOCA talking about Frank O'Hara. He is as witty and erudite as his subject, but the camp stools that the museum provides are just as uncomfortable as their chic bleakness portends and inevitably when museum fatigue sets in I begin to imagine everyone naked and not just the cuties under the lintels but the guards and docents too (I am an equal opportunity fantasist) though given our tidy rows and rapt attention instead of les objects sexuel we are more like denizens of Sunny Acres attending a lecture on the evils of polyester blends.

A lady and her husband stroll right through the camp stool area which does resemble a kind of swanky campground caravansary with Mr. Lehman as Ranger Dave and said lady oblivious to everything exclaims, "Is that his penis?" And she certainly meant the Rivers painting where O'Hara is nude save for boots but I happen to stand at the that moment to relieve my aching back so everyone looks at me (and those looks range from the crocodilian to the dismayed) just as David begins the Fire Island story, so everyone is torn between the two great subjects for poetry and choose the latter: it was not a dune buggy that killed Frank O'Hara but, of all things, a jeep!

There is this momentary stillness then as we no doubt imagine that tender and wise and generous man thrown into the sand but before we can get lachrymose the same lady demands, "Who is he talking about?" And someone tells her and if she had a lorgnette she would peer through it as she sniffs, "Never heard of him."

You can read five poems by Ron Koertge
in the first issue of Jacket.

October 1999  |  Jacket 10  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |
about Jacket | style guide | bookstores | literary links | 400+ book reviews |