Little Willie

Ever since I took a creative writing class in High School I’ve had an off again on again love affair with writing poetry. Writing a poem, structured or free form, can be insanely fun and a really great way to express emotions. Showing people poetry I write, however, can be the most nerve wracking experience of my life. Especially when the poem is a non rhyming non structured poem. Free verse poetry can be a lot more emotional, personal, and kind of “artsy” feeling and I feel like a lot less people aren going to understand where they are coming from. I’ve always felt a bit more comfortable showing people poetry I write that has some sort of structure. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that even if people don’t understand what I’m trying to say with the piece they at least will understand why certain choices were made. The poem will have some rhyme and rhythm and the reader will be more likely to respond to it.

There are a few kinds of structured poems I enjoy writing but one has always stuck out to me specifically. I first discovered it in an Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader book. The poems are called “Little Willies.” They’re morbid but very whimsical four line poems about a little boy who either causes the death of someone else or himself. They are very darkly humorous and that’s something that I tend to really enjoy. There isn’t much written about the origin of Little Willie poems but the gist of their history is that they started in humour columns in late nineteenth century news papers. I’ve always had fun writing them and put together a little collection that I was hoping to (and maybe someday will) get illustrated and try to publish. For now, since I have so much fun writing them, I thought I’d share a few with you. Maybe I’ll post more in the future as well. For starters, here is one of my favourites, not written by me.

Willie pushed his sister Mel
Down into the drinking well
Now she’s gone because it kilt her
Now we have to buy a filter

Most Little Willies follow this rhyming pattern. but they don’t always have to. Generally the only qualifiers are that they rhyme, they feature Willie, and some horrible morbid thing must happen to him or one of his friends/family members. Now, here’s a few that I’ll write on the spot. I hope you enjoy!

Willie’s teacher was a bore
He made all the children snore
His lectures were making Willie sick
So he smashed his head in with a brick

Willie on a field trip
At the zoo he had a slip
Into a cage, with a loud crunch
He became a lion’s lunch

Willie pushed his sister Molly
Underneath a speeding trolley
Mummy sighed, quite distressed
“Who’s going to clean up all this mess?”

I’m sure these aren’t for everyone, and they are pretty disturbing. But I do get a lot of joy out of writing them. I hope some of you enjoy them, and can look forward to seeing more posted soon!


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