American Poetry
for Students of English Worldwide

..............Jack Kimball.............

High Noon:
Reality and Hypothesis with FRANK O'HARA

Some people think poetry is like life in that it contains the five senses, it dreams, it steps indoors, then out... Poetry is filled with surprises! As if he agrees with this idea, Frank O'Hara, who used to work at the Museum of Modern Art, writes on his daily experiences working and living in New York City: walking by skyscrapers, taking taxis, reading "headlines" in the newspaper. Here is a poem about a Hollywood legend, Lana Turner.


Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

The following new words have the SAME meaning as words in Frank O'Hara's Poem. Find the words in the poem that mean the SAME as these:

1) to rush _______
2) title of a newspaper report _______
3) to fall down _______
4) infamous _______
5) really _______
6) skull _______

Decide if these statements are TRUE or FALSE.

1) "Trotting" means the opposite of "hurrying."
2) "Perfectly" means the same as "actually."
3) "Suddenly" means the same as "unexpectedly."
4) "Along" means the same as "behind."
5) "Falling down" is like collapsing.
6) "Perfectly disgraceful" means "thoroughly good."
7) "To strike" is the opposite of "to hit."
8) "To act" means "to behave."

Is the speaker within the poem in California?

How do you know?

What was the speaker (or the "I") in the poem doing before he saw the headline?

Using some of the words in the poem and similar words, describe the speaker. Does he seem old? Interested in life? Fun-loving? Silly?

What is meant by "the traffic was acting like the sky"?

According to the poem, was it snowing or hailing?

Is the speaker upset with Lana Turner?

How do you know?

If Lana Turner had been seriously hurt or had died, how would the speaker's attitude change, do you think?

If it had been a clear day with no traffic, how would the poem be changed?

For the fun of it, make up some reasons for answering these questions yes and no!

1) If someone is very famous, such as a rock star or a movie star, can she or he be very ordinary as well?

Yes, _______ _______ _______

No, _______ _______ _______

2) If you're in a hurry, can you think straight?

Yes, _______ _______ _______

No, _______ _______ _______

3) If it's raining now, will it be raining ten minutes from now?

Yes, _______ _______ _______

No, _______ _______ _______

Choose any one or more of the following ideas for writing one or more poems.

1) Write a poem with a headline in it.
2) Write a poem describing a time when it's raining and not raining.
3) Write a poem where someone falls down.
4) Write a poem where the speaker is in a hurry.
5) Write a poem about a famous actor or rock star.
6) Write a poem where someone gets stuck in traffic.

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