Claudia Serea



In 1954, hands in his pockets,
Frank O’Hara was walking at noon
on the glaring New York City streets,
thinking of poems
and lunch.

At 7 p.m., the sun was still strong in Romania.
My father was 14 at the time,
and plowed his father’s land, hard as concrete,
with a horse blind in one eye,
thinking, no doubt, about poems
and dinner.

On 5th Avenue, O’Hara stopped,
lit a cigarette,
breathed in the smoke,
and looked at the sky.

My father stopped and smoked, too,
maybe even at the same time,
inhaled, exhaled,
and looked at the same sky.

Yes, they were young,
skinny, and thoughtful,
and didn’t know each other,

but I imagine them sharing
the gestures of lighting up,
tight lips holding the cigarette,
the flicker, the blue breath,
the crust of the earth,
the sun.

67 years later,
I’m reading the Lunch Poems on the bus
and think of the lives of these two men,
each one caught in his own
grinding machine.

And a rabbit runs
from the field in Romania
into a bar in New York City,

foolish enough to believe
it can escape.

Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., and many others. An eight-time Pushcart Prize and four-time Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, 2012), To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervena Barva Press, 2015) and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea is a founding editor of National Translation Month, and co-hosts The Williams Poetry Readings in Rutherford, NJ. Her latest project is Twoxism, a poetry-photography collaboration blog.