Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- Mr. Williams April 6, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


Mr. Williams,

What is so important

about that



Does cleaning out

the chicken coop

really warrant

such angst?



With vague apologies to William Carlos Williams (what was your mother thinking?) and his apparently crucial wheelbarrow.


47 Responses to “poem- Mr. Williams”

  1. Scott Says:

    I like this very much. It’s well paced and it give a lot of latitude for drawing my own conclusion. 🙂

  2. redgladiola Says:

    To be honest, before I learned the story behind the poem, I also had no idea why it was considered so great. *laughs*

  3. Karin Wiberg Says:

    LOL. That one made me laugh. I happen to like that poem, and I have some seriously poopy chickens! So yes, yes, it does warrant angst! 🙂

  4. onewithclay Says:

    channeling mister williams:

    the red wheelbarrow
    is an important part
    of the universe
    even as you are
    and i was

    but “so much depends”
    on what we notice
    and share

  5. pdholm Says:

    Mr. Wiliams and his chickens have inspired a great deal of angst over the years. Makes you want to write poetry, right?

  6. 5h2o Says:

    Could it have been the morning after he wrestled that little four year old to get a throat culture? I am not so sharp after a late night, either.

  7. A more effective (to me) WCW poem is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” (

    I admit much of Williams has bored me to death. But you don’t have to like most of a poet’s work to love one or two of his poems, and “Landscape” is to me is a powerful poem. Try that one out.

    • Oh wow. You’re right. There’s quite a bit of scope for contemplation in that one, isn’t there? I do not believe I’ve seen it before, so thanks for sharing it.

      A poet I just discovered in the last year is Mary Oliver. On the book I picked up at Powell’s in Portland, when I was on vacation there last March, it says “Far and away this country’s best-selling poet” I guess in Canada we’re so obsessed with Gordon Lightfoot, Margaret Atwood, and Leonard Cohen that gems like Oliver escape us. She and I have quite a similar style- short poems that focus on noticing something. She writes about her dogs, too. 🙂

      • Oliver’s great–and she has written many wonderful books. Personally, I think an obsession with Leonard Cohen is no bad thing! What amazing songs and poems he has written. And Ron Sexsmith is absolutely fantastic and has created a body of very moving work. I discovered his music maybe five or six years ago and have been trying to catch up ever since.

      • Oh yes. Another troubadour.

  8. Rural Poet Says:

    Reblogged this on Rural Poet and commented:
    I’m thinking that there could be a whole genre of poems about the poems of W.C.W.. I like this one. Especially the comment at the end.

  9. komarovstyle Says:

    nice post…like it 🙂

  10. I wish I could answer the question on Williams’ behalf, but I can’t. I think we’re not supposed to know, but rather, simply trust him at his word, “so much depends upon” this red wheelbarrow. It’s not about knowing what specifically depends on the thing, but seeing the thing, in and of itself, “glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens.” Later or earlier, I don’t know which, Williams said or wrote: “No ideas but in things.” At any rate, I love your musing here.

    • All poems exist within the understanding of the readers, whatever it might be, and whether it is anywhere similar to the understandings of the poet at the time of creation!

  11. colonialist Says:

    The barrow reminded Wheeljam Carlos that, like his poem, it wasn’t going anywhere. That’s what makes it so pathetic. (Well, it’s as good an explanation as most offered. I believe that anything written which doesn’t make full sense without a generally known background story, or stating it, is not clever.)

  12. namelessneed Says:

    awww play nice

    good read this morning/thanx

  13. grieflessons Says:

    Ha. Loved your poem. I once wrote a very long poem that started out “So much depends upon a gray shopping cart.” Thanks for following my blog. Now I’m following yours.

  14. haha I LOVED this. It’s one of the first poems I ever read (like many people, I’m sure). It is a great little poem, but I love your sassy response to it

  15. Genuine Poetry Says:

    nice! another bad poem that makes me wonder is The Old Oaken Bucket by Samuel Woodworth.

  16. Coincidentally, I only came across The Red Wheelbarrow poem last month. Its power is the simple openness to being interpreted. Maybe someone was going to wash the chicken until it rained and they got other ideas! There may be as many imagined “back stories” as readers! I wrote a short 100 word piece about a red ferris wheel. Am sure that I didn’t leave as much out though.

  17. I like that you insulted the man again in your apology. lol

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