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?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Living, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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