Passing the American graveyard, for my birthday
the crosses stuttering, white on tropical green,
the years’ quick focus of faces I do not remember . . .

The palm trees stalking like deliberate giants
for my birthday, and all the hot adolescent memories
seen through a screen of water . . .

For my birthday thrust into the adult and actual:
expected to perform the action, not to ponder
the reality beyond the fact,
the man standing upright in the dream.

  • Kenneth Koch, “Poem for My Twentieth Birthday” from Poetry 67 (November 1945). Used by permission of the Estate of Kenneth Koch.

  • Source: The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (2002)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I have always loved poetry, but through Poetry Out Loud I have learned a greater respect for all different types of poetry. This competition is so much more than memorizing and reciting a poem; I became very invested in each one of my poems."
Janessa Gould
2017 WI POL Champion