Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

By Kenneth Koch 1925–2002 Kenneth Koch
                                                                  1

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.


                                                                  2

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


                                                                  3

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.

                                                                  4

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, "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" from The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 2005 by Kenneth Koch.  Reprinted by permission of Kenneth Koch Literary Estate.

Source: The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Kenneth Koch 1925–2002

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Kenneth  Koch

Biography

Prize-winning author Kenneth Koch published numerous collections of poetry, avant-garde plays, and short fiction while also serving as one of the nation's best-known creative writing teachers during a career that spanned over five decades. Associated with the New York School of poetry for most of his career, Koch used surrealism, satire, irony, and an element of surprise in many of his poems. However, "his satires are more than . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.