A Step Away From Them Poem Analysis

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The poem A Step Away From Them by Frank O’Hara has five stanzas written in a free verse format with no distinguishable rhyme scheme or meter. The poem uses the following asymmetrical line structure “14-10-9-13-3” while using poetic devices such as enjambment, imagery, and allusion to create each stanza.
A Step Away From Them occurs in one place, New York City. We know this because of the lines, “On/ to Times Square, / where the sign/blows smoke over my head” (13-14) and “the Manhattan Storage Warehouse.” (line 43) The actions introduced in the first stanza confirm that it is a city even further:
“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.” (lines 2-6)
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The language of the poem in the first stanza also depicts the setting of New York as a busy place with a lot going on at one time, “The sun is hot, but the/cabs stir up the air. I look/at bargains in wristwatches. There/ are cats playing in sawdust.” (11-14) The near-sporadic thinking of the speaker: having multiple thoughts in the same stanza that aren’t directly related and being written in short-enjambed sentences (creating breathlessness), creates a feeling of sensory overload which a city like New York is known
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