The Bigness of Small Poems – # 4 in a Series – Tom Crawford

American Poet Tom Crawford. Photo Credit: Carol Rose Brown

American Poet Tom Crawford. Photo Credit: Carol Rose Brown


   There is nothing
   out there
   to help you.
   The bird
   is inside.
   Pick up your brush,
   and maybe
   you should close
   your eyes.

Tom Crawford from Caging the Robin, Cedar House Books, 2014

I first profiled American poet Tom Crawford back in April 2012. (To read that post click here.) And so it was with delight I received a copy of Tom’s latest book in the mail from him in 2014. And I’ve been meaning to give a shout out for it ever since. Time!

Known and respected by many of his peers, including Jim Harrison, David James Duncan, Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher (Carver;’s wife who wrote the introduction to Caging the Robin),  Crawford has a disarmingly simple poetic style that still manages to pack in fistfulls of mystery! His latest volume, Caging the Robin, is yes, a book that includes many bird poems but also much more: his abiding praise for our crazy, horrible wonderful world.

There is a strong Asian influence in Crawford’s work (he lived in Korea for a time) and a lovely meditative notion in many of his poems, especially in the poem above. It has such a Rilkean sense to it. That we must bring the things of the world inside and make them live there in our imaginations. As a poet I am reminded by this poem to keep doing the inner looking. To trust the words that bring my poems from deep inside.


  1. judedeason
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard,

    This poem is a powerhouse, a sock-roller, a poem I will reread because what it has to say matters.

    There is an error you may want to correct. Carver where it should say Crawford.

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you not just for comments but also catching that typo – Crawford not Carver. And thank you for letting me know this poem was impactful for you. That’s always my dream!

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