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A Step Away from Them

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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.
                                          On
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.

Frank O’Hara, “A Step Away from Them” from Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted with the permission of City Lights Books, www.citylights.com/CLpub.html.
Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1995)
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A Step Away from Them

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