Once one gets what one wants
one no longer wants it.
One no longer wants what?
One no longer wants what
A man and a woman want a woman and a man
or a man and a woman depending
on the man and the woman.
Once one gets what one wants once
one no longer wants it once
then one no longer wants it at all.
Yes then no. Yes and no? No.
Yes then no then yes and always
after yes comes no. Never always
yes, but always no. Always know
after yes comes no.
One wants what one wants
not what one wanted.
“Echolalia,” by Ian Williams. From Personals, copyright © 2012 Ian Williams. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Freehand Books.
Source: Personals (Freehand Books, 2012)
- What is the mood of the speaker?
- What does the word echolalia mean? How might this relate to the poem?
- Repetition with variation is an important technique in music and poetry, but it is also a powerful tool in advertising. The speaker of the poem is very persuasive — are you persuaded?
- This poem is taken from Ian Williams’ book Personals, which plays with the form of personal ads. Do you think the voice of this poem is speaking from a position of vulnerability or strength?
- If you were reciting this poem, where would you pause to help communicate the sense of word play?
- Write a poem with a spare vocabulary that feels light but has a darker meaning. Use the language and phrasing of advertising to say something uncomfortable.
Ian Williams has his own website, blog, Twitter account — check it out:
Listen to Ian Williams read another poem from his book Personals: