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Kent Johnson

Poem Upon a Typo
Found in an Interview of Kenneth Koch,
Conducted by David Shapiro [1]


In this issue of Jacket you can read:
button Thomas Fink: David Shapiro’s ‘Possibilist’ Poetry
button David Shapiro (in conversation with John Tranter, 1984)
button David Shapiro: Six poems (from A Burning Interior, 2000)
button Carl Whithaus — Immediate Memories: on the Poetry of David Shapiro
button Nathan Hauke: Meditations on David Shapiro: Memory and ‘Lateness’
button Kent Johnson: Poem Upon a Typo Found in an Interview of Kenneth Koch,
Conducted by David Shapiro
In Jacket 15: David Shapiro’s 1969 interview with the late Kenneth Koch.


1.   First of ill, I fell in love.

2.   I could, of course, go on and on.

3.   The gapeseed trees leaned down; the humors of a flying thing broke swith in a deafening whoosh.

4.   Well, certes, this just shows our tholen souls have been braided everywhen as one.

5.   And therefrom, the sun shone down thro the missled hole upon the praying ones and.

6.   It was full of smoke in that dome, fore the days of no smoking.

7.   I remember those good old days, whilom it was me, and Will and Ben and Chris and the wholesome lads of the laste avant-garde.

8.   And always, eke, that tother, the girl whose number was a misterium to me.

9.   She blew out some rings and did say: It seems I am losing my trellis of thought, rushing with you through this tunnel of trees, whitherward our fate we canst know, nor whencesoever we have come, nor usward what speeds.

10.   For there are coins where once there were our eyne.

11.   I liked the little hussy that way, naked but for a brassiere, how she could say the darndest things and with such casual mien, as if a kind of chord falling from her spine were plugged into some vast background dump of language.

12.   (Exaltingly, eftsoons, I sawed her in the sweven of the flowering trees. She was a plane girl, really, ilke, fain and yare, with wings all swoopstake on her thorax plus eyne of tinsel shillings. Stilled, I lived her with all my might, chasing a horse amain into the sun. You’d never know it now from my face. It was more archaic than it now seems, was more like the sun. Stained and morning-breathèd, we woke in Atocha, to puissant concussions alow the ground.)

13   (a). My nickname at Christ’s College was “Beuys”; I spent five years in its crucifixed sanatorium, whence, a foil upon my temples, great voltage did floode my soiled bodie.

13   (b). But, anyway, to continue and for exemplars: Please observe how in this amber light the prints of the figs are perfectly preserved and.

14.   Not to mention that the one whose name is Love is in the form of a faucet.

15.   And should it seem at the end of every verse that I am washing my hands of the people and cranes whom I have hammered into this foil for fun, well, then that is the way of the silly sun.

16.   Lit from within, as if the fractures in the loveliness were intentionally stressed to the point where it all might just come apart, but not yet quite.

17.   Peradventure, as if to illustrate, the giant exchange student from the colonies, entered the foiled room.

18   (a). Roman and ebonied, eyes whited by the burn, he cried forth and broke the spell:

18   (b). How come is a bus in a desert on fire, he did say, gardyloo. [2]

19.   Prithee, thee, quickly, now, break thro this water! (unidentified female voice in the room)

20.   For don’t you know, dude (the giant continued), that’s what your hair will be: Flames shooting upward until you wouldn’t see because it were so high up there.

21.   I know it sound incredible, somedeal, OK?

22.   And I know you be sad and happy at a great flip-flop velocity.

23.   But I shit you not: Stop clapping, hug your kin, and look immediately at the sky.


1. In 1972, in the library of Pewaukee High School, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, I opened, for no particular reason, a copy of Poetry magazine, ca. late 60s, in which happened to be featured David Shapiro’s “Poems from Deal.” I was 16, and I read there that Shapiro had composed the poems when he was 18. I had never read poetry like this before (I’d read little poetry, period), and I mark that encounter as what “turned me on” to poetry, thus changing my life. (Whether I should thank Shapiro with all of my heart or send him a very powerful letter bomb is a question I often ask myself.)

2. Translation, in all instances, approved by The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.


Kent Johnson’s author notes page gives more recent information about his work.
Jacket’s ‘author notes’ provide direct links to various pages in the magazine that feature more of an author’s work, reviews of their books, and interviews.


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