Michael Witts: Two deaths; and two poems

  Michael Witts

  Two deaths
 and two poems

 

I
a better story
Frank O’Hara dying
hit by a dune buggy
as he lay in the sand
on that beat on Fire Island
nude and lubed
so much explained
love declared but unexplored
24 July 1966

the prose truth    bleak
like your Long Island funeral
run down by a Jeep
driven by Mr Ruzicka
late at night
as you stood    by yourself
in the darkness    next
to the stranded vehicle with a thrown tyre
on that beach

shattered legs and ruptured liver

no charges laid

II
the poetry of his death
James Dean
imagined like the end of that scene in
Rebel without a Cause
who stops before the cliff is chicken
his end foretold
in the movie    then unreleased
the beauty of everything he did
30 September 1955

in truth your Porsche Spyder
slammed at speed
into the turning Ford Tudor
driven by Mr Turnupseed

no elegance
your remains
locked in the wreck

no charges laid

with your beauty it was
no wonder Frank loved you

Two Poems:

 Camera Obscura: Hockney
shots of light
mesmerizing the surface of the pool

his LA exile
looking like bad photography

surfaces bisected
by light and shade and colour
a flat pack world

not as you might imagine
unlimited blue water
reflecting the vast sky

a static take
on that vibrant splash

his real interest
the intersection of that boy
with this water
the way the white bottom bobs

  Cavafy
the barbarians are still needed
a century on
Xenophobia justifying itself

his journey began
looking into the eyes of old men
and ended with the splendidly oiled body
of that remembered youth
a trip without end
as if that were the meaning
Alexandria a way point
to exile Ithaka an ideal

loss and longing

(his Fourteen Poems illustrated with
line drawings by Hockney)

 

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