Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Some of my poetry (MORE CROWS, published by Border Press, 2008, and blogs are filled with allusions to crows, birds that most people abhor. My godfather, now deceased, once chided me for admiring them and thought I was in league with bad spirits because the sight of them diving in my backyard in Louisiana excited me. I’ve never been under attack by crows, but, recently, stories about several crow bombers have caused me to rethink my ideas of their intentions.

Yesterday, while I talked, via telephone, with my youngest daughter, Elizabeth, who lives in Palmdale, California, she stopped the conversation long enough to warn Joel, 7, about climbing a hill behind her home where crows were acting up. They had zeroed in on Joel’s small mixed breed, pug and Chihuahua dog named “Sugar” and were practicing deep dives to frighten the animal. Elizabeth said they had been attacking the dog for several days, and she feared Joel was their next target.

A few days later, my friend, The Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz, who has migrated to the UK to take a position as Vicar in Petrockstowe, Okehampton, Devon, e-mailed me that she had been awakened several times by “raucous crows this morning. They were screeching and banging on the window in the (to be) music room. They sounded like people banging on the door. Someone said if you put cut-out forms of a cat on the window, it will make them go away. OK…I know you’re all imagining what’s next! Yeah, of course I’ll try it. I’m afraid to open the windows as I’ll have them inside…”

Then there’s the story of a flock of crows living in Warwick, UK, that attacked cars, pulling off the windscreen wipers and scratching the paint jobs of several automobiles. After they finished this attack, they began attacking humans. A conservation officer has said that the crows became aggressive because they were nesting, and people came too close to their territory. The officer recommended that residents wear hats and leave no waste food lying about.

I suppose I should heed these cautionary tales and revise my thinking about crows, but I heard several of them cawing in the yard here at Sewanee, Tennessee this morning and chose to think that they were simply announcing a thunderstorm that has been threatening to happen for a week. Unfortunately, a few peals of thunder and darkened skies subsided within an hour, and my weather predictors have taken wing since their loud and mistaken announcement of rain.

The following poem will appear in a new book of my poetry entitled ALCHEMY to be published by Border Press next month. It was written during a stay at Table Rock, South Carolina last summer:


The savage birds scorn Table Rock,
a long-standing tower
stripped of branch and inviting green.
Perhaps the light is too extreme
above the unbroken rock,
they miss concealment and rubbish piles,
scenes of malice where they can haggle
and strut, their expressive tongues
now unable to stir the clear air,
this place free of litigation.
I miss the raucous voices,
their sleek coats glistening
in an incautious sky,
their songs raised,
the primitive incantations
of holy, unholy dark princes.
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