“It may be that poetry makes life’s nebulous events tangible to me and restores their detail; or conversely, that poetry brings forth the intangible quality of incidents which are all too concrete and circumstantial. Or each on specific occasions, or both all the time.” ~ Frank O’Hara
It’s always fun, after a delicious Chinese meal of won ton soup, spring rolls, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, Peking duck, steamed sea bass, and beef chow fun, to take that last sip of jasmine tea and crack open your fortune cookie.
Oh, the anticipation as you hope for something positive: “You will meet a tall British actor whose last name rhymes with ‘girth,'” “You will write the next picture book bestseller,” or, “You will travel to a foreign land and have many exciting adventures.” 🙂
For those few seconds before I remove that little slip of paper, anything is possible. I hold my breath as I read, “I cannot help you. I am just a cookie,” or, “You will be hungry again in 30 minutes.” On a really good day, I’ll get “You have rice in your teeth.”
Nothing that helps the digestion more than a cheeky cookie.
I’ve always wondered about the people who write these fortunes. Seems like it would be a blast. You have the power to determine destiny . . . or, at the very least, make someone feel good. If you’re a poet, you can take fortune cookie fortunes to the next level. If you’re Frank O’Hara, you can create food for thought that is thoroughly charming and delightful.
LINES FOR THE FORTUNE COOKIES
by Frank O’Hara
I think you’re wonderful and so does everyone else.
Just as Jackie Kennedy has a baby boy, so will you – even bigger.
You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello.
You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.
You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.
In the beginning there was YOU – there will always be YOU, I guess.
You will write a great play and it will run for three performances.
Please phone The Village Voice immediately: they want to interview you.
Roger L. Stevens and Kermit Bloomgarden have their eyes on you.
Relax a little; one of your most celebrated nervous tics will be your undoing.
Your first volume of poetry will be published as soon as you finish it.
You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you’re legendary!
Your walk has a musical quality which will bring you fame and fortune.
You will eat cake.
Who do you think you are, anyway? Jo Van Fleet?
You think your life is like Pirandello, but it’s really like O’Neill.
A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.
That’s not a run in your stocking, it’s a hand on your leg.
I realize you’ve lived in France, but that doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING!
You should wear white more often – it becomes you.
The next person to speak to you will have a very intriguing proposal to make.
A lot of people in this room wish they were you.
Have you been to Mike Goldberg’s show? Al Leslie’s? Lee Krasner’s?
At times, your disinterestedness may seem insincere, to strangers.
Now that the election’s over, what are you going to do with yourself?
You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.
You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?
Beyond the horizon there is a vale of gloom.
You too could be Premier of France, if only … if only…
I love that I will eat cake and I love thinking about being a prisoner in a croissant factory. But alas, the prophetic, “Now that the election is over, what are you going to do with yourself?” gave me pause. More like, what is this country going to do? Alas, we are already seeing that vale of gloom beyond the horizon . . .
I do love me a good Frank O’Hara poem, though. His light, conversational tone and the ease with which he invites himself into your consciousness and makes himself comfortable are irresistible. He’s someone you’d like to talk to at a party.
Does this poem make you want to write your own fortunes? If so, please have a go in the comments. 🙂
Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. Scamper over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week.
“I have, for my own projected works and ideas, only the silliest and dewiest of hopes; no matter what, I am romantic enough or sentimental enough to wish to contribute something to life’s fabric, to the world’s beauty . . . Simply to live does not justify existence, for life is a mere gesture on the surface of the earth, and death a return to that from which we had never been wholly separated; but oh, to leave a trace, no matter how faint, of that brief gesture! For someone, some day, may find it beautiful!” ~ Frank O’Hara
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.