For Kenneth Koch

You don't need a pony
to connect you to the unseeable
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.

Necessary it is to love to live
and there are many manuals
but in all important ways
one is on one's own.

You need not cut off your hand.
No need to eat a bouquet.
Your head becomes a peach pit.
Your tongue a honeycomb.

Necessary it is to live to love,
to charge into the burning tower
then charge back out
and necessary it is to die.
Even for the trees, even for the pony
connecting you to what can't be grasped.

The injured gazelle falls behind the
herd. One last wild enjambment.

Because of the sores in his mouth,
the great poet struggles with a dumpling.
His work has enlarged the world
but the world is about to stop including him.
He is the tower the world runs out of.

When something becomes ash,
there's nothing you can do to turn it back.
About this, even diamonds do not lie.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • Source: Poetry

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I cannot say enough about Poetry Out Loud and what the program has done for my colleagues and our students. I have seen what this amazing program does for poetry lovers and poetry skeptics alike."
Craig Lawrence
2014 IL POL Champion Teacher