Jan 30, 2012 This is Just to Say (and spoof)

Dear readers,
Are you ready to laugh??? Good. I notice we’ve done a couple re-runs lately, and I apologize for that, but I’ll mount 3 defenses: 1: New readers. 2: Greatest hits. 3: Like y’all even read these things anyway.
Not only have we printed William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” (1923) before, we have read the spoof by Kenneth Koch as well, and I’m reprinting both of them (I’d guess a good handful of you can recite Williams’ original verbatim, even unintentionally). Koch said, apropos of other modernist giants, that Eliot and his ilk were like the dictators of modern literature, and that there was no way to joke around or wink at what writers were creating. One had to be terrible severe and serious about irony, for example. This certainly accounts for the simultaneous homage and snarkiness of his version. Let’s take a llok:
This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

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.

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

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.

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!

While looking for these this morning I also found a couple hilarious examples from blogs, which I will share. I propose that we do our own smart-aleck versions and share them on this forum.

This is just to say
I saw your
passive aggressive note
on the break room microwave.
In spite, I reheated my spaghetti
without covering it.
The tomato sauce spattered like
angry constellations and it tasted
so much better.


This is just to say

I sleep with the dogwhenever you go away, in direct contravention of house rules.
Forgive me, but he is warmer than nuclear fired central heating
And does not snore nearly as loud as you.


I left their line splits as written, but let’s be honest–they coulda done better. I know we can do better. Enjoy! -ed.

One response to “Jan 30, 2012 This is Just to Say (and spoof)

  1. And many replies, of course.
    From Steve:
    This Is Just to Say

    I just moved
    the shorts
    you left on
    my cubicle

    and which
    you were undoubtedly
    for later

    Excuse me
    they look better
    hanging from
    the flagpole

    From Lauren:
    This Is Just to Say

    I have rejected
    the birthday
    that is in
    my future

    for which
    you were probably
    a surprise

    Trust me
    I am surprised
    So young
    And so old

    From Jonelle:
    This Is Just to Say

    I have dented
    the bumper
    of your Camry

    which was so neatly parked
    in front of my house

    Forgive me
    I am not
    a skilled parallel parker

    From Matt:
    This Is Just to Say

    I have ordered
    your deportation
    to a country

    which you have
    very likely
    not seen since you
    were three years old

    Forgive me–
    I know you wanted
    asylum instead

    but the law here is
    quite demanding
    so strict
    and so cold

    From Sara:
    This Is Just to Say

    I had to end
    our relationship

    I wanted to smack you
    with a shovel

    Forgive me
    but you are both
    dreadfully boring
    and terribly cheap

    From Meg:
    This Is Just to Say

    I just ripped
    the new shrubbery
    from your garden

    Which you had
    with such raw joy
    placed to admire
    each day

    Forgive me–
    I know you love plants
    I do in my way

    But you pissed me off
    making my yard
    look so bad

    From Scott:
    This Is Just to Say

    I used your Bible
    as a footstool
    this morning.

    You will probably
    be offended by
    my insensitivity.

    But it was the perfect size
    Plus it is so thick
    and so rigid.

    From Ryan:
    This is just to say

    I used your Posada jersey
    As Toilet Paper
    This morning

    I suppose
    You had laid it out
    For the game

    But I was desperate
    And actually felt it was
    A marked improvement

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