Study Guide

Having a Coke with You Appearances

By Frank O'Hara

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Our speaker in "Having a Coke with You" is a looker. And we don't mean he's deserving of a wolf whistle. We mean that he looks at stuff—at the you of the poem, at sculptures, at portraits, at tulips, at birches. As a big fan of visual art, this speaker seems to understand the word primarily by the way it looks to him. That might explain why we get such a short, dramatic line like "I look" (13). It's more than a line, it's a declaration of what this speaker is all about. In light of it, it's easy to see (see what we did there?) why this poem is so overwhelmingly visual. Even his love for the you of the poem seems to hinge on appearances. Is that a good thing, do you think?

Questions About Appearances

  1. Can the way you look change the way people think of you? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Why?
  2. Can the way you feel change the way the world looks to you? Does it change the world for our speaker? Or is it the other way around?
  3. What is it about visual art that makes it meaningful, something more than "just paint" for our speaker?
  4. How do you think our speaker will react when the you of this poem grows old and loses their looks?

Chew on This

Appearance is subjective. In other words, the way things look depend entirely on your state of mind. (Happiness = fluorescent flowers.)

Art can never truly come near the simple experience of living life. (Nice try, though, art.)

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