A Step Away from Them

Paul Legault

It’s my lunch hour, so I take the Afor one stop to Dumbo where there are nocabs — but you. It’s methydown under The Bridgewhere J can be spotted and things areglistening outside the grilled cheese place,and that google car that passed just passeson. Now they’ll keep you here forever — exposedbricks, candied bacon, depicted on someavenue where I can return to later floatingabove you like a drone. Don’t walk ongrates. Don’t jump out of movingcabs. I hear death gets biggerat the invitation of the East River weare always crossing. Luckily, the train Charon’s                            conducting hit a jumper, delaying its returnto the other Main Street. This placeblows when you work in it. You want to stop likethe waterfall they uninstalled over there.Negro Modelo after Modelo Especial. Enoughtoothless babies to found a more stylish Rome,a modern one, raised by pugs, full of halfsmilesin double-wide strollers. Yes,suddenly, I will never be a morning person. It’s 1:11. It’sa day I don’t want to be: Monday.                            Neon on neon is agreat lifestyle choice, as Ben mightwrite, if I were him. A Japanese photo shoot andI stopped because of you in thecorner of this rehabbed picnic area.Federico Garcia Lorca is in NY againand can’t leave the Library this time. I wantfoxdogs to always be trending. Quick, put my mouthinside of your mouth.                            There are months until the PuertoRican Day Parade, and our neighbors on Starr St.make their windows into flags. Call meBunny. Then, never let me die.Then, give me Amy back.Earth is full of you as ever. Everything, nothing,and just one thing is happeningpast the nude photo books at powerHouseand the posters for Spring Breakers.The horrors of your life happen herewhich is to say nothing. You’ll haveused to work here. Now people keepshowing up who won’t have to.                               A thing we are doingand a good thing is quitting. My hand’s in yourpocket, Frank O’Hara.

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Photo by Jonathan Aprea

Four volumes of Paul Legault’s poems have previously been published: The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn Publishing), The Other Poems (Fence Books), The Emily Dickinson Reader (McSweeney’s Press), and Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2 (Fence Books).

Lunch Poems, first published in 1964 as Number 19 in the City Lights Pocket Poets series, is widely considered to be Frank O’Hara’s freshest and most accomplished collection of poetry. That’s what it says on the back of his book. Fifty years later, Paul Legault clicked the refresh button. This expanded and enhanced version was written by Legault during his lunch breaks. Often this poet, strolling through the noisy splintered glare of a Manhattan noon, has opened a window on his laptop to type up thirty or forty lines of ruminations, or pondering more deeply has withdrawn to a darkened dive or gay bar to limn his computed misunderstandings of the eternal questions of life, co-existence and depth, while never forgetting to eat Lunch, his favorite meal. . . .

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