Not a Poem of Crows

by Ken Ashworth
The Waters
First Place, February 2019
Judged by Ruth Bavetta

Grandma kept a crow named Herkimer,
claimed it told her things. It brought her
bits of mirrored glass, brass buttons
and once, a three dollar gold piece.

But I will not write a poem about crows,
not the four and twenty in a pie,
not the ones of Van Gogh who pecked
the face of sunflowers.

Not even the ones years ago in Charleston
who overtook the Pecan trees
before daylight when our bodies still fit
like origami on your pale Victorian divan.

The ones round here now are arrogant
they stretch on the phone wire,
steal snatches of conversation,
translate them into crow speak.

On my gate, a pair of tail feathers,
a warning: Leave this place while
you still can. This is no life, to
stay and not be written about.

"Not a poem of crows," the title boldly proclaims and just as boldly pushes us into the first stanza where it becomes obvious the title is a lie. There’s a crow immediately crowding its way in. We’re told again, no crows allowed, only to run into another and another, indeed what seems to be the beginning of an almost encyclopedic listing of crows from the speaker’s life, from past to present. Just when we think that’s all it will be, the final stanza exposes the raison d’etre of this most corvine of poems. This is indeed not a poem about crows, but a poem about resolving to leave a bad situation. --Ruth Bavetta