This is just to say

by Wolf Pascoe on October 8, 2012

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

— William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams, the essential American poet, has been quoted in this weblog before. The intended effect is to make me look good.

Which it always does.


Here we go again:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold




Written as if it were a note tacked on a fridge (more WCW slyness), the only capital letter is the F in forgive, indicating that the poet does not really want forgiveness.

There were refrigerators to be tacked on to when Williams wrote the poem, but icebox persisted in poems and conversations, and is punchier, no?

This poem is so often quoted on the Internet I don’t even feel guilty about posting it without somebody’s permission. In fact I spit on your permissions. This is to say


I have posted
the poem
about the plums
on my blog

and which
you were probably
for some anthology.

Forgive me
the words were delicious
so funny
and so sweet


I don’t know who first parodied “This is Just to Say,” but it was Kenneth Koch who turned the exercise into an art:

Variations on a Theme

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!




This is not the first blog post to concern itself with such shenanigans. There is even a This American Life episode that contains “This is Just to Say” poems.

Perhaps, though it doesn’t matter, Just Add Father is the first parent blog to lose its composure in this way:

I vacuumed
the legos
that were on the living room floor
all summer

and which
you had been saving
for Darth Vader’s house

Forgive me
I told you to clean them up
the vacuum’s hum was so insistent
the plastic tinkling inside the metal hose
like rainwater.

So freeing. So compelling. So therapeutic.

So much more refined, don’t you think, than “Go the F*** to Sleep.”

I can’t help myself.

I ate
the chocolote bunny
Aunt Lois left for you

And which had been
in the basket
we set out
Easter Sunday

Forgive me
he looked so cocky
amid the malted robin eggs
his fat ears
so tender.

Care to try? Get if off your chest.



Danse Ruesse




Wondermark. In which, perhaps, plums are eaten




Your This-is-Just-to-Say poem here.  Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara October 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

Oh, thank you for making me smile this morning! I’m going to have to try this myself!


Wolf Pascoe October 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Send the results!


Sirena October 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

That was SO blinking funny! I must be the only person on the planet that hasn’t heard of the “This is Just to Say” poems, even the original. I’m STILL laughing. Thank you!


Wolf Pascoe October 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm

We await your poem!


Kyle Bradford October 9, 2012 at 7:57 am

I wish I enjoyed poetry more. I really do.


Wolf Pascoe October 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Roses are red, violets are blue.
I wish you enjoyed it more too, I do.


Kristen @ Motherese October 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Oh, how fun! How about this?

I have thrown away
the collage
that was sitting
on the table

and which
you probably made
at preschool
in two minutes

Forgive me
but it was satisfying
the crunch of the macaroni
and the snowflakes of glitter

Hmm…not so sure. Mine doesn’t sound poetic – maybe even a touch vindictive?


Wolf Pascoe October 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Oh, how I love this sly reflection on the masterpieces our little ones create in two minutes. Crunch of macaroni, indeed! I find nothing vindictive about it!


The Exception October 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Oh what fun! And I love the contribution by motherese@ I will put this on my list to try, just after the essay type poem I am working on as per Walking on My Hands last entry by Pamela… So many fun things to try to write and so little time in which to do it.


Wolf Pascoe October 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Freud said there’s love and work. But he left out fun.


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