Poem for September: Permanently

Kenneth Koch

One day the Nouns were clustered in the street.
An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty.
The Nouns were struck, moved, changed.
The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence.

Each Sentence says one thing—for example, “Although it was a dark
rainy day when the Adjective walked by, I shall remember the pure
and sweet _expression on her face until the day I perish from the
green, effective earth.”
Or, “Will you please close the window, Andrew?”
Or, for example, “Thank you, the pink pot of flowers on the window
sill has changed color recently to a light yellow, due to the heat from
the boiler factory which exists nearby.”

In the springtime the Sentences and the Nouns lay silently on the grass.
A lonely Conjunction here and there would call, “And! But!”
But the Adjective did not emerge.

As the adjective is lost in the sentence,
So I am lost in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat–
You have enchanted me with a single kiss
Which can never be undone
Until the destruction of language.

You might say that I am a fan of declarations of love which meander through the mundane before confessing their fondest feelings. “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen is perhaps my favorite song mostly because of the line “You ain’t a beauty, but yeah, you’re all right.” It may be the type of people I’m attracted to, or it may just be the unrealistic expectations scripted drama creates, but I find most declarations of love in my past to be something along the lines of the following: “Did you get the peanut butter at the store? Shall we go to see that play? When was the last time we cleaned the house? Have I mentioned that I find you quite attractive and I love you? When do I get to have a new job?”

I also love the idea of the parts of speech having a whole lives we don’t know about. Can’t you picture the nouns, pimply and with poor posture, standing together near a streetlight? And the poor conjunctions, what of their fate?

4 thoughts on “Poem for September: Permanently”

  1. This is a fantastic poem. I have never heard it before, but I have fallen instantly in love! Wonderful! And yay! September!!!!

  2. Ok so here is my rant. Taylor has to memorize a poem each month for 4th grade. Not a problem for me – my problem is they are the LAMEST poems ever – the ones for October are all about witches and goblins. I was hoping for some classics – but noooooo!! Should I be one of those parents and complain or just let it lie??? I really don't see the merit in memorizing some stupid poem on Halloween – fall, yes, something meaningful sure!!! Uggggghhh seeing this poem just reminded me how I have to bite my tongue and help her memorize useless crap!!

  3. Oh and for the record I did not mean in any way to imply your Sept. poem was useless crap – quite the contrary – just to clarify! 🙂

  4. I'm actually NOT in favor of students being required to memorize poems. It's one of those things that very easily can become the thing that children hate to do and cause them to turn their back on poetry for life. If a teacher is going to require students to memorize poems, it would seem to me a better plan to let them choose the poem they are going to memorize from a vast array of choices, not all of which match the season. That way they can find something they like. But that's my two cents.

    The only poem I had to memorize was in 4th grade and we got to pick them. I picked a short one:
    I eat my peas with honey
    I've done it all my life
    It makes the peas taste funny but
    It keeps them on my knife.

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