Poets Answer Another Age-Old Question: How Many Poets Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb? 8. William Carlos Williams

Poets answer another age-old question

How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?

8. William Carlos Williams

I have changed
the bulbs
that were in
the streetlamp

and which
were previously
the sidewalks.

Forgive me.
I like it
so dark
and so calm.

Ozymandias calls the Poetry Crisis Line as William Carlos Williams eats a tire.

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
OZYMANDIAS (caller): Look on my works, ye mighty , and DESPAIR!
WILLIAMS: I have eaten de spare that was in the icebox.

Any resemblance between Ozymandias and actual arrogant despots approaching irrelevancy is purely intentional.

Ken Cuccinelli rewrites more classic poems

The Poetry Crisis Line tries to stay out of politics, but sometimes politicians won’t stay out of poetry. So after Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, suggested corrections to “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (aka, the “Statue of Liberty Poem”), we asked Mr. Cuccinelli if there were any other classic poems he’d like to rewrite. He gave us the following:


Emma Lazarus*

Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet
and who will not become a public charge.

William Carlos Williams†

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

they coud not
pay for
their housing

Forgive me
they were lazy
and after
my job


Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water, water everywhere
But not a drop to drink
Unless you can afford to pay
For access to the sink


William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night,
If you come here to the States,
You’d better sell some Frosted Flakes.



*Mr Cuccinelli’s suggested revision.

†We made the rest of these up.

William Carlos Williams re-calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: My wife’s new pink slippers
have gay pom-poms.

COUNSELOR: Is it any of your business? And how can you tell?

CALLER: There is not a spot or a stain
on their satin toes or their sides.

COUNSELOR: Hmm. But they could be metrosexual.

CALLER: All night they lie together
under her bed’s edge.

COUNSELOR: OK, that’s more convincing. But slippers just stay together.

CALLER: Shivering I catch sight of them


CALLER: and smile,

COUNSELOR: I’m glad you’re comfortable with it. But please don’t watch them. They may want their privacy.


Read the original here

William Carlos Williams Calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR     Poetry Crisis Line. What is your emergency?

CALLER:      I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox…

COUNSELOR:      This is the Poetry Crisis Line, sir. did you want Poison Control?

CALLER:      …and which / you were probably / saving / for breakfast.

COUNSELOR:      Did you mean to call the cafeteria? I can transfer you.

CALLER:      Forgive me.

COUNSELOR:     I’m not here to judge you, sir. What’s important is that you forgive yourself.

CALLER:      They were delicious…

COUNSELOR:      I’m glad to hear it.

CALLER:      …so sweet…

COUNSELOR:      And how this is a problem, sir?

CALLER:      …and so cold.

COUNSELOR:      I see. If the plums are too cold, you could try eating other types of fruit–if you feel you’re up for it. Do you dare to eat a peach?