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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shirley Wetzel's Version of William Carlos Williams' "This is just to say"


I was born in Comanche, Texas, but I soon got bored and hopped a train bound for Key West three weeks later, accompanied by my mother and big sister. My dad was in the Navy, and we bounced around the country, finally settling back in Texas. I started writing as soon as my fingers could hold a pencil, and have never stopped. Most of what I wrote was for my own amusement, but a few years ago I decided to get serious and started submitting personal essays, historical stories, and such to magazines, newspapers and anthologies. To my amazement, I sold most of them. My first love, though, is mystery. Last fall my first mystery short story was included in A Death in Texas, published by L&L Dreamspell. I love to travel, and have seen a lot of the world,
including Thailand, where I lived for two years, Guatemala, where I worked on a Highland Maya archaeological excavation, Turkey, Peru, and various parts of Mexico. My current work in progress is a mystery titled A Death in Comanche, and it's been in progress a loooong time. I write book reviews for overmydeadbody.com, and sometimes for Mysterious Morgue. My blog address is http://swetzel.wordpress.com


Our darling Kaye has politely asked me to talk a little about a writing/yoga retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago. You can quit twisting my arm now, Kaye :-) The retreat was in Belton, Texas, run by a wonderful lady named Patricia Lee Lewis, who conducts similar retreats all over the world.

Here’s the link to Patricia’s website: http://www.writingretreats.org/About/

If you click on her Wales retreat, you'll see St. Davids Cathedral - for those of you who know me, you'll know the importance of that. In the far right corner of the photo you can see Carn Llidi Mountain, where my mother's first husband lost his life in a plane crash in 1943. Patricia and I discovered we had many other things in common.

But that's not what Kaye asked me to talk about. One of the exercises Patricia assigned us was to use the model of the poem by William Carlos Williams, which will be familiar to many of you - Bill Crider said he used it to torture generations of his students. It's the kind of note you'd paste on the refrigerator ....


This is just to say

That I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
so cold
William Carlos Williams

And here's my version - it's totally fiction, I have no idea where it came from, I just put my pen to paper and it wrote itself down. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!:

This is just to say

That while you were away
I slept with the pool boy
in our marriage bed

I know this may upset you
but he was so sweet
so delicious
so HOT

Forgive me, or don't
I don't give a rat's ass
Ever since I saw you
screwing the maid
in the pool house
Shirley Wetzel May 29, 2009

You can have a lot of fun with this! There's even a wikipedia entry for it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_Just_To_Say

I've written several more since the retreat, about people I work with, for example, and some of my friends have even commissioned me to write some for their particular situation, but it's more fun to write your own. Try it, you'll like it!

10 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

Ha! Love your version, Shirley! WCW's poem has always been a favorite of mine and I did a take off several years ago when, in a hurry to get to painting class, I backed into my husband's truck. I left him a note:

This is just to say

That I have backed
Into your new truck.
It was so
Very shiny
And so
Very red

Forgive me
I am so very
Sorry
And blue.

I also brought him a nice bottle of scotch when I came home.

Ken Lewis said...

Dear Donald:

This is just to say
that while you were away
at the Locksmith's Convention
in Biscayne Bay
I ran off with your beautiful Kaye

First she was cold
but then she was hot
and she wouldn't shut up!
she talked A LOT

But the worst thing of all
which caused our downfall
was that damn chastity belt
with the triple steel locks
that you placed in my way
and ruined my whole day!

So like it or not
you're getting her back
postage due, I'm afraid
for trust me old friend
I have already paid

Bill Crider said...

WCM would be proud, Shirley.

Pat Browning said...

What a riot you people are!

Shirley, we have to stop meeting like this -- but every day somebody from Europe stops at my blog to read your story of A Mountain in Wales. Just thought you'd like to know!

Pat Browning

Earl Staggs said...

Dear Shirley:

Even though this personal memoir gave me a whole nuther impression of you, I enjoyed it muchly. ;-)

So this is just to say
When next I mosey down Houston way
It'll be pay-your-dues day.
I'm gonna hug you so tight
With all my everlovin' might
You'll be sore till Tuesday.

Kaye Barley said...

you folks are TOO clever!

Kenneth. YOU are too nuts! (But so funny). Donald is gonna HOOT when he reads your poem. Do you remember me telling you guys that every once in awhile he would break into singing "You talk too much, you worry me to death . . ."
Pfft!

Neil Plakcy said...

Love your version, Shirley! Here is one I use in my college lit course:

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

1
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.

2
We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

3
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.

4
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!

-- Kenneth Koch

Shirley Wetzel said...

Oh, I did so hope this would happen, and I love each and every one of your poems. I'm sitting here at work giggling, trying not to laugh too loud so the boss won't catch on. BTW, I wrote a version for her, but I can't print it here.

You're all the greatest, but dear Kaye is the greatest greatest of all. And Earl Darlin', I look forward to that bone crushing hug!

Shirley Wetzel said...

oops, I forgot to say anything about the photo. No, the handsome young man is NOT the pool boy - he's Steve Jones, a Welsh fire fighter, amateur aviation historian, and all-around good guy. He's the one who started my family on our pilgrimage to A Mountain in Wales. We are standing on the southern coast of Wales, at St. Non's Chapel, near the house where Patricia will be hosting another writing/yoga retreat in August.

Doris Judd said...

This is just to say to Sabrina/Shirley of old Pompeye
from her dear friend then and now Dedreanna/Doris

This is just to say,
I remember
the long-ago days

We lived in Pompeye
You with a large mosaic pool

Forgive me,
I remember
the pool guy and you …