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Best Famous Kenneth Koch Poems

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by Kenneth Koch |

To Various Persons Talked To All At Once

 You have helped hold me together.
I'd like you to be still.
Stop talking or doing anything else for a minute.
No.
Please.
For three minutes, maybe five minutes.
Tell me which walk to take over the hill.
Is there a bridge there? Will I want company? Tell me about the old people who built the bridge.
What is "the Japanese economy"? Where did you hide the doctor's bills? How much I admire you! Can you help me to take this off? May I help you to take that off? Are you finished with this item? Who is the car salesman? The canopy we had made for the dog.
I need some endless embracing.
The ocean's not really very far.
Did you come west in this weather? I've been sitting at home with my shoes off.
You're wearing a cross! That bench, look! Under it are some puppies! Could I have just one little shot of Scotch? I suppose I wanted to impress you.
It's snowing.
The Revlon Man has come from across the sea.
This racket is annoying.
We didn't want the baby to come here because of the hawk.
What are you reading? In what style would you like the humidity to explain? I care, but not much.
You can smoke a cigar.
Genuineness isn't a word I'd ever use.
Say, what a short skirt! Do you have a camera? The moon is a shellfish.
I can't talk to most people.
They eat me alive.
Who are you, anyway? I want to look at you all day long, because you are mine.
Might you crave a little visit to the Pizza Hut? Thank you for telling me your sign.
I'm filled with joy by this sun! The turtle is advancing but the lobster stays behind.
Silence has won the game! Well, just damn you and the thermometer! I don't want to ask the doctor.
I didn't know what you meant when you said that to me.
It's getting cold, but I am feeling awfully lazy.
If you want to we can go over there Where there's a little more light.


by Kenneth Koch |

The Boiling Water

 A serious moment for the water is 
 when it boils
And though one usually regards it
 merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
 available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
 for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy 
 man, or just someone
 temporarily disturbed
With his mind "floating"in a
 sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
 "unreal" things.
.
.
A serious moment for the island is when its trees Begin to give it shade, and another is when the ocean washes Big heavy things against its side.
One walks around and looks at the island But not really at it, at what is on it, and one thinks, It must be serious, even, to be this island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to the whole sea.
All its Moments might be serious.
It is serious, in such windy weather, to be a sail Or an open window, or a feather flying in the street.
.
.
Seriousness, how often I have thought of seriousness And how little I have understood it, except this: serious is urgent And it has to do with change.
You say to the water, It's not necessary to boil now, and you turn it off.
It stops Fidgeting.
And starts to cool.
You put your hand in it And say, The water isn't serious any more.
It has the potential, However—that urgency to give off bubbles, to Change itself to steam.
And the wind, When it becomes part of a hurricane, blowing up the beach And the sand dunes can't keep it away.
Fainting is one sign of seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another one.
A serious moment for the telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is Angelica, or is it you.
A serious moment for the fly is when its wings Are moving, and a serious moment for the duck Is when it swims, when it first touches water, then spreads Its smile upon the water.
.
.
A serious moment for the match is when it burst into flame.
.
.
Serious for me that I met you, and serious for you That you met me, and that we do not know If we will ever be close to anyone again.
Serious the recognition of the probability That we will, although time stretches terribly in between.
.
.


by Kenneth Koch |

Variations On A Theme By William Carlos Williams

 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!


by Kenneth Koch |

One Train May Hide Another

 (sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at Least after the first train is gone.
And so when you read Wait until you have read the next line— Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another, So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man, If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another.
And one person's reputation may hide The reputation of another.
One dog may conceal another On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe; One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia Antica one tomb May hide a number of other tombs.
In love, one reproach may hide another, One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another—one colonial may hide another, One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column.
One bath may hide another bath As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein One sentence hides another and is another as well.
And in the laboratory One invention may hide another invention, One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple—this is a painting By someone after Matisse.
One waits at the tracks until they pass, These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses.
One identical twin May hide the other.
And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician Gazes at the Valley of the Var.
We used to live there, my wife and I, but One life hid another life.
And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter.
The daughter hides Her own vivacious daughter in turn.
They are in A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by the mother's And has to carry that one, too.
So one hitchhiker May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee Another, too, until one is over-excited.
One love may hide another love or the same love As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts" Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that" And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too.
In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass So you can see what else is there.
At home, no matter where, Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about, The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities.
Reading A Sentimental Journey look around When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see If it is standing there, it should be, stronger And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome.
One sidewalk May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs Hide the beating of drums.
One friend may hide another, you sit at the foot of a tree With one and when you get up to leave there is another Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along.
One teacher, One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man May hide another.
Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one.
It can be important To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.


by Allen Ginsberg |

Homework

 Homage Kenneth Koch


If I were doing my Laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran
I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap,
 scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in
 the jungle,
I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly
 Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge
 out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little
 Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie
Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood &
 Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out
 the tattletail Gray of U.
S.
Central American police state, & put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean