Monday, May 02, 2005

Last week, I rediscovered my Kenneth Koch poetry books. I remember meeting him and getting him to sign my book. His poems still feel familiar even though I haven't really read any of his books in five years! He also has a great sense of humour:

Aesthetics of being glorious

To be glorious, take off your wings
Before you fly.

Anyway, the one I really wanted to quote is taken from 'A New Guide' written in his collection 'One Train'. It is written as if it is a set of instructions:

Look at this camel.
A man unused to camels is trying to mount it.
The camel's driver motions for the camel to kneel down
On its front knees, which it does.
The man mounts it. The camel gallops away.
To qualify for his position the man must demonstrate his ability to
ride a camel. He has failed.
Maybe he will be given another chance - if it was decided that this was
a defective camel.
The worst thing that can happen is that he will be out of a job. He
will not be shot.
The camel crouches down now in the sand,
Quiet, able and at ease, with nothing about it defective.
If the camel were found to be defective, it would be shot.
That much of the old way still goes on.

A New Guide: 4
Kenneth Koch

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