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The Poets

January 21, 2010

Said the Crow


My curses gazed upon the foe
Who perched on wires by the tree:
"Just who is it you seek, Old Crow,
The neighbor boy, or is it me?"

Said the Crow:

"I seek for water and for bread,
And seek for murders in the sky-
But never for a neighbor dead,
Or that a neighbor's neighbor die."


Of the Poem:

Sometimes a crow's a crow, as sometimes a cigar's a cigar.

The poem above came from an experience I had earlier this week. I accompanied two friends for a walk across the street when suddenly there was dark black crow directly before us plucking at a puddle of water. An onslaught of superstitious images filled my head to the point that an eeriness sat on the entire scene (my friends felt it too).

Now I hardly consider myself a superstitious person, but truth be told, I've always perceived the presence or suggestion of Death where these birds would rove. Moreover, and on account of this, I've caught myself shunning them, shooing them, cursing them, staring swords at them ... I think I even tried to throw something at one of them once!

Superstitious? I wouldn't go that far, but I will acknowledge that like most of us I've grown up in a culture riddled with superstitious ideologies, and that these have become so interwoven into our social awareness that it's almost impossible to come out unscathed by it (e.g. my examples above).

Notwithstanding, the above poem is essentially a reminder to myself that this is so, that that bird we saw plodding about the water wasn't the embodiment of Death or Destruction or Bad Omen, but was rather ... well ... a bird.

Now we may attach symbols to these creatures that represent otherworldly aspects, and even mythologize or poeticize about them, but the truth is we ought to be focused on the meaning behind the symbol rather than the subject through whom that meaning seemingly symbolically manifests.


Side Note:

In the second line of the second stanza the phrase "murders in the sky" appears. This sounds exceedingly dark, and was intended to. But the truth is it's not dark at all. The word 'murder' is a collective noun that basically means the same thing as 'flock' (hence the phrase murder of crows). When in line two of stanza two the crow says he seeks "murders in the sky" he's essentially saying he seeks the company of other crows- a social inclination.

3 comments:

Kendra Lise said...

I love that I not only enjoy your poetry, but learn from your descriptions as well.
I like the simplicity this poem represents; to take our surroundings at face value. It also speaks to me in a deeper sense. It makes me think of the dark faces we encounter on people we pass by: we take offense or cower or judge without first wondering if their downturned face is simply because they lack food or water or love. Instead of shining light into the reflections in their eyes, we cast our own shadows on an already shadowy face. I'm inspired to do better than that now. So thanks!

sireneatspoetry said...

I love the poem. Reminds me of the Clod and the Pebble, kinda. :) Craftfully done.

Patrick said...

John, haven't had much of a chance to look around.

This poem is good - damned good. Some of your other poems (of the few I've read) still seem too drunk with the liquor of antiquity - old words, old rhythms and old phrases. But this has something of your voice in it (something new) - and that's the hardest thing for a poet to do - find their voice. Of all the poets I've read on-line, you are among the few who have the most potential.

The combination of simplicity and archetype (symbolism) is a powerful one in this poem. You're on the right track.

As of April 9th, 2010