David Graham
Crow Songs

1. Crow Feast

As I climb from sleep's cave this morning
crows are already on the job, jabbering
over a splay of flesh and feathers on the lawn
(pigeon, probably) - dead with no better memorial.
Tomorrow some rain, and the lawn will be clean,
crows still yakking in the high oaks, frat-boy laughter,
feathers gleaming like gun barrels. Just big
flapping dung beetles, really, doing their
appointed work, boisterous yet no-nonsense, too,
like nurses joshing of this-and-that while rinsing
bed pans. I could never love a bird -
those dinosaur claws and eyes pitiless as stones.
But these creatures are all dark flash
and tinted windows, mobsters of my morning,
high-rollers of the windy streets, big-shot complainers.
Yes, they've got style, these oily apparitions,
and they draw me close like blood
spilling from a limousine door.

2. Apostrophe to the Crows

Obviously, you've escaped from the corners
of a Rembrandt drawing, flying raggedly
over the marsh, squawking crude jests
in Dutch, airing your matter-of-fact contempt
for the squirrels, those French exhibitionists
with their plumy tails. I'm surprised
Rembrandt never painted you close up
as he did that side of beef - he would have savored
your glossy depth, ugly functional faces,
your disdain for every propriety. For you're
the dogs of the air, every flock a mongrel pack,
every morsel an argument, every stunning cloud
equally easy to ignore. No, you're not
beautiful, yet still you stake your claim
on beauty's tidy landscape, you artists
of trash bin and road kill. You sweep the sky
clean as cobblestones with your shiny wings,
you solve the mind-body problem entirely
with a proverb and a dirty joke. You leave
nothing unscorned or unsaid when night departs
and reveals, once again, the power of ugly wit.
Raucous hungover grandfathers, you're always
headed elsewhere in skeptic fury, yet somehow
every morning you fill our massive walnut
with ancient satire and wild ease.