Spoofing the poem ‘This Is Just To Say’

One of the highlights of my week is listening to NPR’s This American Life podcast. Each week I’m moved, inspired, and intrigued. This week I laughed and was inspired by the power of simple everyday language. Part 2 of the show entitled Mistakes Were Made presents an original poem by William Carlos Williams. A poem which reads like a casual note tacked up on the fridge. A sort of non-apologizing apology.    

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

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

This simple poem, with its everyday language, has inspired many would-be poets to write similar poems. Spoofs. Here are a few.

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
by Kenneth Koch

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!

Sorry, But It Was Beautiful
by Andrew Vecchione (a 6th Grader)

This is just to say
sorry I took your money
and burned it.

But it looked
like the world falling apart
when it crackled and burned.

So I think it was worth it.
After all
you can’t see the world fall apart every day.

One seemingly simple poem inspired people to write poetry. I think this makes ‘This Is Just To Say’ a remarkable poem.  

Want to read more? Search the web for ‘this is just to say spoof’. The Somewhere in the Suburbs blog has some great spoofs. If you find one or feel inspired to write one, share them here as a Comment. Thanks!

The simple joys of poetry


  1. Just wanted to say I liked this, in case the no comments would lead you to believe no one dug the post. I’m a huge fan of This American Life and I like the WCW poem and the inspired follow-ups. It shows how creativity feeds upon itself and inspires.

  2. WCW amongst my favourite poets…i love the poem as it gently announces the Author’s weakness for sensual experience, with no apologies- except a plea to be understood.

    i’m not so sure about the spoofs though
    although young master Vecchione had me raising a smile

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