Run Down by a Dune Buggy on Fire Island

By on Sep 24, 2010 in Poetry

for Frank O’Hara (1926 – 1966)

All his funny witty wordy jazz
stopped that morning with the sun
burning in his eyes so he didn’t realize
the danger from a crazy dune buggy yes
it was July 24, 1966 and no one knows
now who drove too fast or what careless
drunk hit him because maybe his nose
was in a book of poems by Verlaine
or some Ghana poets or the art News
puffing a Gauloise or a Picayune
thinking about de Kooning or Kline
or Pollock throwing sand in the blaze
of sun as there roared close fate’s
dune buggy forever framing Frank’s
own “eternally fixed afternoons.”

Heat Wave Contents


While sitting, once a week in an old paint-spattered Ford in the mid fifties with his father who was a glider mechanic in Sicily during World War 2, R. Steve Benson listened to his dad invent playful funny words and stories to entertain him while his big brother Barry (co-author of their two published books of poetry: Schooled Lives: Poems By Two Brothers, and Poems By The Skunk River Valley Boys) was having his weekly private accordion lesson... Years later, Steve found a quote by the critic Helen Vendler: "The play of language is the chief cause for the aesthetic success of any poem." Thanks Dad!