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AP Literature: Poetry: O'Hara, Frank



"Frank O'Hara was a dynamic leader of the "New York School" of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler.  The Abstract Expressionist painters in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s used the title, but the poets borrowed it. From the beginning O'Hara's poetry was engaged with the worlds of music, dance, and painting.

In that complex of associations he devised an idea of poetic form that allowed the inclusion of many kinds of events, including everyday conversations and notes about New York advertising signs. Since his death in 1966 at age forty, the depth and richness of his achievements as a poet and art critic have been recognized by an international audience. As the painter Alex Katz remarked, "Frank's business was being an active intellectual." He was that. His articulate intelligence made new proposals for poetic form possible in American poetry." from Poetry Foundation

Poem: A Step Away From Them

A Step Away from Them

Related Poem Content Details

It’s my lunch hour, so I go 

for a walk among the hum-colored   

cabs. First, down the sidewalk   

where laborers feed their dirty   

glistening torsos sandwiches 

and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets   

on. They protect them from falling   

bricks, I guess. Then onto the   

avenue where skirts are flipping   

above heels and blow up over   

grates. The sun is hot, but the   

cabs stir up the air. I look   

at bargains in wristwatches. There   

are cats playing in sawdust. 


to Times Square, where the sign 

blows smoke over my head, and higher   

the waterfall pours lightly. A   

Negro stands in a doorway with a   

toothpick, languorously agitating.   

A blonde chorus girl clicks: he   

smiles and rubs his chin. Everything   

suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of   

a Thursday. 

                Neon in daylight is a   

great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would   

write, as are light bulbs in daylight.   

I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S   

CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of   

Federico Fellini, è bell’ attrice. 

And chocolate malted. A lady in   

foxes on such a day puts her poodle   

in a cab. 

             There are several Puerto   

Ricans on the avenue today, which   

makes it beautiful and warm. First   

Bunny died, then John Latouche,   

then Jackson Pollock. But is the   

earth as full as life was full, of them?   

And one has eaten and one walks,   

past the magazines with nudes   

and the posters for BULLFIGHT and   

the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,   

which they’ll soon tear down. I   

used to think they had the Armory   

Show there. 

                A glass of papaya juice   

and back to work. My heart is in my   

pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.