Statement with Rhymes

By Weldon Kees 1914–1955 Weldon Kees
Plurality is all. I walk among the restaurants,   
the theatres, the grocery stores; I ride the cars
and hear of Mrs. Bedford’s teeth and Albuquerque,   
strikes unsettled, someone’s simply marvelous date,   
news of the German Jews, the baseball scores,   
storetalk and whoretalk, talk of wars. I turn   
the pages of a thousand books to read
the names of Buddha, Malthus, Walker Evans, Stendhal, André Gide,
Ouspenski; note the terms: obscurantism,   
factorize, fagaceous, endocarp; descend   
the nervous stairs to hear the broken ends   
of songs that float through city air.
In Osnabrück and Ogden, on the Passamaquoddy Bay,   
in Ahmednagar, Waco (Neb.), in Santa Fé,
propelled by zeros, zinc, and zephyrs, always I’m pursued
by thoughts of what I am, authority, remembrance, food,
the letter on the mezzanine, the unemployed, dogs’ lonely faces, pianos and decay.

Plurality is all. I sympathize, but cannot grieve
too long for those who wear their dialectics on their sleeves.   
The pattern’s one I sometimes rather like; there’s really nothing wrong
with it for some. But I should add: It doesn’t wear for long,   
before I push the elevator bell and quickly leave.

Weldon Kees, "Statement with Rhymes" from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees edited by Donald Justice by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press. © renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: Poetry (May 1939).


This poem originally appeared in the May 1939 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 1939
 Weldon  Kees


Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, earning his degree in 1935. In addition to writing, Kees was passionate about painting and throughout his life created many forms of art including experimental films. In 1955 Kees took his sleeping bag and his savings account book and disappeared, leaving his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is not . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

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