Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
By Kenneth Koch
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 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 a doctor.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. This poem is a parody of another that I've posted in this journal before:
This Is Just to Say
By William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
"To be considered worth imitating and worth laughing at is a compliment," writes Pinsky. "Moreover, to be truly seen and understood is close to the pinnacle for a work of art, and no critical essay can see and understand as deeply as the best parodies. There's an additional thrill for the reader if the object being parodied has not seemed ridiculous -- until the parody wakens the sleepy perception that, yes, even a charming and indelible work may have its ridiculous aspects." Of the Williams poem, Pinsky declares, "Williams's insouciance and offhand apology, his delight in his own capricious taste, and, underlying all of that, a certain male, maybe even professional, assurance -- these qualities do not diminish the poem. Still, it is bracing to notice them here and in Williams's other work." I really love that succinct analysis, though I'd probably attach the caveat that it's the narrator's assurance rather than Williams' that I think we are seeing -- not that Williams wasn't capable of sexual arrogance with the best of them (this is a man who declared, after visiting Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap's lesbian salon with its enormous bed, "I went out and stood up to take a piss"). Koch, adds Pinsky, "leads us, hilariously, to take such notice. Somehow, substituting long lines for short ones, while keeping some of the rhythms, is another satisfying part of the joke."
Today younger son had his second-to-last soccer game of the season (they won, 6-0) and after some brief shopping en famille, we picked up my parents and went to the Frederick Keys-Kinston Indians game with tickets my children had won for excellent Hebrew school attendance. The extremely limited number of other children there with good enough attendance records was somewhat surprising, though maybe many of them simply did not want to attend a minor league game for a team that isn't playing so well, as they demonstrated this evening. I came within one pitch of seeing a grand slam -- by the visiting team -- but the pitcher threw a wild pitch and the guy on third came home on that, so when the batter hit the next pitch out of the ballpark there were only two men on base...that's the kind of game it was! The first baseman also committed two consecutive errors. Looking at my scorecard, I can see that I don't even want to count the number of strikeouts in the seven innings of the first game -- it was an evening double-header due to rain last night, so they played only seven. Which was probably merciful.
Harry Grove Stadium is a fun place to watch even mediocre baseball, though -- extremely family friendly, decent grilled chicken (and hot dogs, of which my older son ate two plus a bag of peanuts, ice cream, french fries...he must be having a growth spurt), Ben and Jerry's, lots of goofy promotions between innings from t-shirt launches to people trying to win things by pitching rubber chickens into buckets (with the successful throws replayed on instant replay!) My son wanted to get one of the big foam "#1" fingers, and when we found out they cost $5 and declared no way, he announced to the hawker in the stands, "That hand costs an arm and a leg!" We were sitting next to the loudest kid in the stadium -- who for a change was not my younger son, but a first grader with the loudest voice in the history of first graders, and everyone in the stadium was howling as he mispronounced the players' names.
<russellsquee> See, _inbetween_, I can be sensitive to other people's disinterest in Russell Crowe. *ggg* But in the interest of public awareness, since I missed Russell on The Tonight Show because I forgot to check the listings and no one reminded me, I must point out that Russell is on Famous on A&E tomorrow morning. And a segment on Hollywood Extra on ABC overnight Sunday/Monday. And on Letterman and Ellen Degeneres on Wednesday, plus something called Hollywood On Set (whatever that is) on TVGC (whatever THAT is!) also on Wednesday, and Conan O'Brien on Friday. And he's on the cover of the EW that arrived today! </russellsquee>
And I wanted to say thanks and hug certain people. I wrote out another whole long rant, and then I said: you know, only two people have really behaved like [deleted, since I keep being told by people who disagree with me that I am not "courteous" or "fair" -- though I don't see what is "courteous" or "fair" about coming into my journal to declare support for laws that could bring about my death]. There is no fic, there is no fandom in the world worth putting up with that for me, and I feel a lot clearer and sharper about where I want to spend my volunteer time now...ironically, since as I've said my own personal choice is to choose life every time. Still, when I feel bodily threatened -- when someone I know and think of as at least moderately intelligent makes me feel attacked, personally, in my body and in my faith -- it makes me want to fight so much harder. The hell with courteous and fair -- there is so much more at stake than whether a couple of journalers like me.
The Indians' pitcher has just thrown a pitch that is going to be a strike. If the Keys' pitcher had done more of this we might have seen a different early game!
In between innings we got such entertainment as "Cow" Ripken Jr., who dueled with the Indians' manager on the sidelines as both showed off their grinding-and-thrusting dance moves, plus we all did "Y.M.C.A."...
...and Harry Canary who led us in singing "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch.
Why the kids love this stadium: inflatable slides, a carousel and an arcade...
...and lots of foul balls to chase.
And I'm sure I mentioned the fireworks!