Thursday, February 25, 2010

italk you, ulisten me

It's time for another poem by the great American poet, William Carlos Williams. (Remember when I posted that startling, human poem Danse Russe?) He liked to express his ideas in concrete images or in other words, "no ideas but in things" as far as imaginative literature goes. I admire William Carlos Williams because he was both a brilliant poet and a successful, dedicated physician. And though he wrote good, serious poems, I love his light hearted ones.
English teacher legend claims that Williams left this poem in a note he stuck to the refrigerator for his wife to find. It's funny and charming, straightforward and doesn't require "knowing the code" to enjoy it.

This is Just To Say
                by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten                                       
the plums                                                  
that were in                                        
the icebox                                          

and which                                        
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Other poets have written imitations of this poem to mock it or celebrate it. Can't decide which. Here are some by Kenneth Koch.  They have a slightly darker tone.

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

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!

Speaking of doctors, I wrote this using the same form.

This is Just To Say
                 by L. Nebbia

I have stolen
the itouch
that was in
your hand

and which
you were reading
my entire appointment.

Forgive me.
I wanted
to google
your medical license.


This is Just To Say More
       by L. Nebbia

I have stomped
on the iphone
that pinged
during class

and which you
were using
to snap pictures
of your polished nails.

Forgive me
I was jealous
for Dylan Thomas'
childhood in Wales.

Anybody feel like writing a poem? Post it in comments!


  1. " your medical license..." - hilarious!

    The WCW plum poem - what a plum! And how husband-like!

  2. This is Just To Say

    I have deleted
    the emails
    that you sent
    to me

    in which
    you were asking
    the same questions
    I have answered

    Forgive me
    I desired to move on
    to something
    anything new

  3. on a side note I have always loved that poem. it reads well and is so mundane as to almost be silly. I love that it is about a detail of life, as all writing poetry does not always have to be grand.

  4. Wow. Just last Thursday my modern poetry professor read all those Kenneth Koch variations to to the class after reading the real thing. I like your Apple-directed versions.

  5. I have walked out of work
    into the snowstorm
    I desired to live my life
    outside of work
    forgive me
    but I just dont give a shit
    and my home is just so

  6. hysterical. Google your medcial license and slap your iphone outta your hand.

  7. I ate all
    The nuts

    The ones
    In the

    Forgive me
    I need the