The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 20, 2012

"variations on a theme by william carlos williams"

"There may be a perfectly serious poem, a good poem . . . and some other person writes a parody of it and one line of the parody may have more truth than the whole original poem, or at least be freer to reach the intoxicating heights that sometimes seem where truth is from."—Kenneth Koch










I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

—Kenneth Koch


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