Ave Maria

Frank O'Hara

 
Mothers of America
                               let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
                                                              but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
                                                                  they won't hate you
they won't criticize you they won't know
                                                           they'll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey
they may even be grateful to you
                                                  for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
                                            and didn't upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
                                                               and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it's over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
                                                oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won't know the difference
                                             and if somebody does it'll be sheer gravy
and they'll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
                                                     or up in their room
                                                                                   hating you
prematurely since you won't have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
                                                               it's unforgivable the latter
so don't blame me if you won't take this advice
                                                                      and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
                                                                                  seeing
movies you wouldn't let them see when they were young
 
From Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O'Hara. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara
Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde
On Seeing Larry Rivers' Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art by Frank O'Hara
Now that our hero has come back to us
Personal Poem by Frank O'Hara
Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!] by Frank O'Hara
Lana Turner has collapsed!
The Day Lady Died by Frank O'Hara
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
To the Film Industry in Crisis by Frank O'Hara
Not you, lean quarterlies and swarthy periodicals
Video: Having a Coke with You by Frank O'Hara


Further Reading

Poems Teens Like
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
A Muse
by Reginald Shepherd
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Ballad
by Sonia Sanchez
Because it looked hotter that way
by Camille T. Dungy
Charlotte Brontë in Leeds Point
by Stephen Dunn
Cicada
by John Blair
Coach Losing His Daughter
by Jack Ridl
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Falling
by James Dickey
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
Lady Tactics
by Anne Waldman
Mairsy and Dosey
by Sharon Olds
Making a Fist
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Mermaid Song
by Kim Addonizio
Notes from the Other Side
by Jane Kenyon
Patience
by Kay Ryan
Possum Crossing
by Nikki Giovanni
Sticks
by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Thanks
by W. S. Merwin
That Sure is My Little Dog
by Eleanor Lerman
The Changing Light
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Fist
by Derek Walcott
The New Higher
by John Ashbery
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
The Wild Iris
by Louise Glück
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
White Apples
by Donald Hall
Workshop
by Billy Collins
Poems About Movies
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)
by A. Van Jordan
A Score for Tourist Movies
by Mary Austin Speaker
After the Movie
by Marie Howe
An American in Hollywood
by Frank Bidart
Au Hasard Balthazar
by Stacy Szymaszek
Brad Pitt
by Aaron Smith
Chaplinesque
by Hart Crane
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
by John Ashbery
French Movie
by David Lehman
Heroic Simile
by Robert Hass
Homage to Sharon Stone
by Lynn Emanuel
Old Boy
by A. Van Jordan
On the Waterfront
by B. H. Fairchild
One Shies at the Prospect of Raising Yet Another Defense of Cannibalism
by Josh Bell
To the Film Industry in Crisis
by Frank O'Hara
Trigger Guard
by Joanna Fuhrman
When There Were Ghosts
by Alberto Ríos