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By Weldon Kees

“A equals X,” says Mister One.   

“A equals B,” says Mister Two.   

“A equals nothing under the sun   

But A,” says Mister Three. A few   

Applaud; some wipe their eyes;   

Some linger in the shade to see   

One and Two in neat disguise   

Decapitating Mister Three.


“This age is not entirely bad.”

It’s bad enough, God knows, but you   

Should know Elizabethans had   

Sweeneys and Mrs. Porters too.   

The past goes down and disappears,   

The present stumbles home to bed,   

The future stretches out in years

That no one knows, and you’ll be dead.


Weldon Kees, "The Speakers" from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees edited by Donald Justice by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press. © renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (2003)

Poet Bio

Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, earning his degree in 1935. In addition to writing, Kees was passionate about painting and throughout his life created many forms of art including experimental films. In 1955 Kees took his sleeping bag and his savings account book and disappeared, leaving his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is not known whether he killed himself or went to Mexico.

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