Once one gets what one wants

one no longer wants it.


One no longer wants what?


One no longer wants what

one wanted.




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.

Dive in

  1. What is the mood of the speaker?
  2. What does the word echolalia mean? How might this relate to the poem?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. If you were reciting this poem, where would you pause to help communicate the sense of word play?
  6. 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:


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Bibliographical info

“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)

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