Circle Poems

By Lew Welch 1926–1971 Lew Welch
Whenever I have a day off, I write a new poem.
Does this mean you shouldn’t work, or that you
write best on your day off?
For example, this is the poem I wrote today.
When he was 20, he understood some of the secrets of
life, and undertook to write them down so simply that
even an idiot could understand.
“For,” he reasoned, “if I can’t do that, I don’t
understand it myself.”
He proved himself right.
When he was 50, he didn’t understand it himself.
“Why is it,” he said, “that no matter what you say,
a woman always takes it personally?”
“I never do,” she said.
John said, “Then I met that short fat guy with the
neat little beard, with a name like dawn.”
“You mean George Abend?”
“Abend means evening.”


Lew Welch, “Circle Poems” from Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch. Copyright © 2012 by Lew Welch. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Source: Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch (City Lights Books, 2012)

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Poet Lew Welch 1926–1971



Subjects Living, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet Lewis Barrett Welch was born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1926. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother and sister to a series of California towns. After high school, he served briefly in the Air Force. Welch was educated at Stockton Junior College, Reed College (where he earned a BA), and the University of Chicago. At Reed, he roomed with poets Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, with whom he formed lifelong . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets



Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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