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red wheelbarrow poem by Hugh Cook of

A Red Wheelbarrow

From the world of the hypermundane,
Harmlessly selected,
A red wheelbarrow.
It could have been
A green teapot,
A white ashtray,
A stainless steel fish slice.
But it happened to be
A red wheelbarrow,
Set into motion by the master:
A short
On stilts
Across the garden
Into a red wheelbarrow.

The poem then vanishing.
The wheelbarrow,
In the master's work,
Does not wake
And does not apprehend itself.
But the damage has been done.
Red it is written
So red it must be -
And we all know where red comes from.

I do not blame him,
For the ragged voices,
For the preaching furnace,
For the pyramids
Heaped up in razors.
I do not blame him
For the raw bones,
For the fleshless fingers,
For the sobs
Of orphaned shadows.
If not this symbol,
Then another.
Versatile animals, we
Work our excuses
With what we have.
If not a red wheelbarrow
We would have found our flag
In a pink parrot,
A blue guitar,
A yellow baseball cap,
A clean white pillowslip
Innocent with bluebells.
It just happened to be
A red wheelbarrow.

Author's note: embedded in this red wheelbarrow poem is a short poem, in italics, which was written by Hugh Cook back in the 1970s in imitation of the red wheelbarrow poem (starting "so much depends") by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). A newer, slightly revised version of Hugh Cook's short poem is online at A Short Poem.

Copyright © 2004 Hugh Cook

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