… I wanna write poetry like Koch

April is Knopf’s poetry month, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy receiving a poem a day in my inbox!  Today Knopf posted this poem by Kenneth Koch from his collection, New Addresses , which they describe as  … signature Koch: highly quirky and personal but also entirely universal; free-wheeling; open to risk and to nonstandard approaches, both poetic and emotional. 

“To My Fifties”

I should say something to you
Now that you have departed over the mountains
Leaving me to my sixties and seventies, not hopeful of your return,
O you, who seemed to mark the end of life, who ever would have thought that you would burn
With such sexual fires as you did? I wound up in you
Some work I had started long before. You were
A time for completion and for destruction. My
Marriage had ended. In you I sensed trying to find
A way out of you actually that wasn’t toward non-existence.
I thought, “All over.” You cried, “I’m here!” You were like traveling
In this sense, but on one’s own
With no tour guide or even the train schedule.
As a “Prime of Life” I missed you. You seemed an incompletion made up of completions
Unacquainted with each other. How could this be happening? I thought. Or
What should it mean, exactly, that I am fifty-seven? I wanted to be always feeling desire.
Now you’re a young age to me. And, in you, as at every other time
I thought that one year would last forever.
“I did the best possible. I lasted my full ten years. Now I’m responsible
For someone else’s decade and haven’t time to talk to you, which is a shame
Since I can never come back.” My Fifties! Answer me one question!
Were you the culmination or a phase? “Neither and both.” Explain! “No time. Farewell!”

Learn more about New Addresses by Kenneth Koch 
Learn more about Collected Poems by Kenneth Koch

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