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    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    National Poetry Month: Poem for the Day

    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
    in his white pants and we know his nose
    trembling like a flag under fire,
    we see the calm cold river is supporting
    our forces, the beautiful history.

    To be more revolutionary than a nun
    is our desire, to be secular and intimate
    as, when sighting a redcoat, you smile
    and pull the trigger. Anxieties
    and animosities, flaming and feeding

    on theoretical considerations and
    the jealous spiritualities of the abstract
    the robot? they're smoke, billows above
    the physical event. They have burned up.
    See how free we are! as a nation of persons.

    Dear father of our country, so alive
    you must have lied incessantly to be
    immediate, here are your bones crossed
    on my breast like a rusty flintlock,
    a pirate's flag, bravely specific

    and ever so light in the misty glare
    of a crossing by water in winter to a shore
    other than that the bridge reaches for.
    Don't shoot until, the white of freedom glinting
    on your gun barrel, you see the general fear.

    Thanks to Emory University's Painters and Poems.

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