Biography of John Koethe
John Koethe was born on December 25, 1945 in San Diego, and received an A.B. from Princeton and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard.
He has published six books of poetry: “Blue Vents” (1968), “Domes” (1973), which received the Frank O'Hara Award, “The Late Wisconsin Spring” (1984), “Falling Water” (1997), which received the Kingsley Tufts Award, “The Constructor” (1999), which was a finalist for The New Yorker Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Award, and “North Point North: New and Selected Poems” (2002), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the author of “Poetry at One Remove: Essays” (2001) and “The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought” (1996).
John Koethe Poems
The Perfect Life
I have a perfect life. It isn't much, But it's enough for me. It keeps me alive And happy in a vague way: no disappointments On the near horizon, no pangs of doubt;
North Point North
I In these I find my calling: In the shower, in the mirror, in unconscious Hours spent staring at a screen
Words can bang around in your head Forever, if you let them and you give them room. I used to love poetry, and mostly I still do,
The philosopher David Lewis spun a fantasy of two omniscient gods who know about one world, which might as well be ours. Each knows precisely all there is to know, the grand "totality of facts, not things." Each knows the pattern of the light on each neglected leaf millennia ago. Each knows the number of the stars, their ages, all the distances between them,
The Late Wisconsin Spring
Snow melts into the earth and a gentle breeze Loosens the damp gum wrappers, the stale leaves Left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass. The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds
In the Park
for Susan Koethe This is the life I wanted, and could never see. For almost twenty years I thought that it was enough: That real happiness was either unreal, or lost, or endless,
I drove to Oak Park, took two tours, And looked at some of the houses. I took the long way back along the lake. The place that I came home to—a cavernous
Early Morning in Milwaukee
Is this what I was made for? Is the world that fits Like what I feel when I wake up each morning? Steamclouds Hovering over the lake, and smoke ascending from ten thousand chimneys As in a picture on a calendar, in a frieze of ordinary days?
for John Godfrey 1. Animals Carved—indicated, actually, from solid
The Constant Voice
Above a coast that lies between two coasts Flight 902 turns west towards San Diego. Milwaukee falls away. The constant passenger,
In the last book of The Republic Plato turns to poetry, implicitly contrasts it with philosophy, and argues that it shouldn't even exist in the ideal city he's meticulously constructed. His reasoning is liable to strike us now as quaint: poets traffic in appearances,
Below the Coast
A clumsy hillock Unmolded like a cake on the meadow In the Laguna Mountains. Tough yellow-green grass growing up to a tree As thick as a tooth. In winter, on the road from San Diego,
What The Stars Meant
On a backwards-running clock in Lisbon, By the marble statue of Pessoa; On an antique astrolabe in London Tracing out the sky above Samoa,
Some have the grandeur of architecture, The grandeur of the concert hall: the sentimental Grandeur of an idea lying just beyond recall In someone's imagination, compelled by an even
There were mice, and even
Smaller creatures holed up in the rafters.
One would raise its thumb, or frown,
And suddenly the clouds would part, and the whole
Fantastic contraption come tumbling down.
And the arcade of forgotten things
Closed in the winter, and the roller coaster
Stood empty as the visitors sped away