“Red” Mary Ruefle

1 post

So Much for Red Wheelbarrows

Happy Mother’s Monday (as the day after Mother’s Day isn’t called). I hope those of you with moms did yourselves proud by visiting or, more likely, calling or Face-Timing or Skyping or whatever’s happening nowadays. Moms are a rare breed. Look at what they put up with (a mirror can’t be far).

Me, I called my mom like a good son. Then I spread mulch for four hours, afterwards requiring a long Epsom salt bath for my back. The garden beds look great (you could flip a quarter on them), but I can’t say I feel equally robust.

Still, a long hot bath gives one opportunity to read. I avoid books in the bathtub because I tend to get dozy in the heat and drop them, so reading is confined to magazines. I brought in my last issue (I think) of Poetry instead.

Oh, man. I read this brief-ain’t-the-word-for-it poem and was consumed immediately with jealousy, as in “Why didn’t I think of that?” I’m told jealousy’s the mark of a true poet, so I feel good about it. I have arrived!

The poem was by the well-known poet Mary Ruefle. It’s a spoof on good old William Carlos Williams’ famous “The Red Wheelbarrow” poem, and it goes like this:


Mary Ruefle

I fucking depended on you and
you left the fucking wheelbarrow
out and it’s fucking raining
and now the white chickens
are fucking filthy


I don’t know. I read poems like this and my mind ricochets all over the place. I couldn’t even get dozy in the heat after reading it.

First, I wondered if Mary Ruefle is a huge fan of WCW’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” poem or if she can’t stand it. I could see either being true. I could see either inspiring her to see red and write this ditty.

If she loves Williams’ poem, this is ha-ha laughing with him, and if she loathes Williams’ poem, this is ha-ha laughing at him (and at people who consider it a good poem). That’s the nature of ha-ha parody, after all.

But what made me more envious still is that I could not write this poem, send it to Poetry, and expect to see it published. If I could it would be so cool.

Alas, this is another clear example of a “Haves vs. Have Nots” poem. Joe Nobody (of Have Not, Georgia) sends it over the transom and it might not even get past the first reader. Joe Somebody (of Have, Ohio) sends it and, wham!, it’s accepted with a check written in J.S.’s name pronto (and make no mistake — Poetry pays well not only for wheelbarrows but for rain and chickens, too).

So, yeah. Brief poem but extensive brain meandering. But I did use a wheelbarrow for spreading mulch, anyway. Gray as a cloud, I fear. No rain and no chickens. And, oh. No f-bombs, either. (This is a family blog, after all.)

But synchronicity! Me and Mary! An f-ing team on Mother’s Day (even if she didn’t know it, and even if she isn’t a mother). Thanks for the fun, M. And thanks for your fame, WCW.

Wheeling over and out, KC.