Book of Crow Chapbooks
Book of Crow Chapbooks

I love to hold poetry in my hands. I like the feel of paper, the authority of card stock, the surprise of waxed red thread binding the narrow spine of a chapbook.  I wanted to hold Book of Crow like this, to turn the physical pages.

In creating a chapbook I learned several things. First, that my printer is very awkward for printing four pages on one sheet; I need to print each sheet individually, flip it over and reinsert it to print on the back of the sheet.  I also learned how to wax thread and how to bind the pages with a simple stitch, and that I am no good at cutting perfect rectangles. Stamp ink bleeds through paper;  it is tedious to use Microsoft Word to layout four pages per sheet;  it is enjoyable to shop for paper.

Book of Crow Title Page
Book of Crow Title Page

I made two copies of Book of Crow. I intend to make more, both of Book of Crow and other collections. My distribution will be on a whim; send them to people, place them in the myriad Little Libraries I find in my wanderings, leave them in coffee shops. These first two copies, I’m going to send to friends. I don’t know when I will make more, but if you want to get a surprise in the mail someday, send me your address at poetobscura AT gmail DOT com, and I’ll send you a chapbook from my next batch.

Book of Crow Author's Note
Book of Crow Author’s Note


Book of Crow


I. Crow Choral

Grieves and a weep weep weep –
        Crow in a glut of sweets.

Graves and a knock knock knock –
        Crow in a kiss of hemlock.

Ghosts and a growl growl growl –
        Crow in a rot of bacchanal.


Weep and a grieve –
Knock and a grave –
Growl and a ghost –
        Crow in a vowel of boast boast boast

II. Calling Crow

The doorway to Crow is 3 AM.
The pathway to Crow is fear.
Kaw caw craw –
        Straight away summons him.

III. Recognizing Crow

Crow chortles in the battlefield.
Crow traffics in poppies.
Crow shrieks in the millions,
        spackles the land with offal,
        wears the guise of grackle.

Guard well your fledgling hopes –
        Crow wants to eat their shine.

He is the long-tailed crackle and drag.
He is the gold-eyed death coins.
He is the purpled raiment glistening with tears.

Crow is putrefaction perfected,
        here to set you up for the okie-doke –
Grieves and a weep weep weep

IV. Wards against Crow (ineffectual)

Powerlines are overcrowed with psychopomps,
those gluttons of the sweetness
        we can’t help but

Graves and a kaw caw kraw –
        Crow in a copse of hysterics!

Draw your circles of salt.
Raise up your crucifix.
Shine the gift of kindness.

Salt, crucifix, kindness –
        Crow crushes them all.

V. Crow Visitation

He played a little game,
the two of us under my sheets.
My foot, he took
                   (only that!)
All my toes bent down,
piggies at worship.
My arch constricted and my sole
                   (my soul!)
fell thrall to the King of Crows.
Oh, he gave me a real crowfoot,
both nexus and crux
                   (exquisite pain!)

                   Cruel Crow was anything but urbane.

VI. Crow in Poetry

It was he who
        had the crow’s eye view
        of the rough beast.

It was he who
        scattered the white chickens,
        spilled the barrow of life.

It was he who
        fanned the panic,
        laid-low Lady Lazarus.

Now I concede this line-up is a put on,
but I’d bet stars to rats
it was Crow who
gave you the old okie-doke,
        you know
                graves and a knock knock knock –

Tell me Leda,
        are you sure it was a swan?

VII. Compassion of Crow

Motherless boys are
        the ultimate
        knowers of death.

They weep and knock and growl.

Loss traps them.
Slugs in a pan of beer –
                     drowning –
until Crow sips away
their memories of her.

VIII. Crow Action/Reaction

Crow flapped his wings –
        a string of dark stars fell.

Crow opened his beak –
        time devoured eternity.

Crow flew in the cracks of soul –
        dirge was born.

IX. Joining Crow

This morning I woke to a squall
        of rats and motherless boys.
I fed them sweets.

This morning I woke to a tornado
        of crowfeet and psychopomps.
I fed them hemlock.

This morning I woke to a siren
        of poppies and put-ons.
I joined their bacchanal,
        and we sang
        and we danced
        and we lived

Ashes to Crow, Dust to Crow –
                we all fall

June 2016


Images Courtesy of George Hodan

Back to The Bone Pile

A Direct Line from the Muse?

A Direct Line from the Muse?

Last weekend, a series of interlocked poems came to me in my sleep.  I wrote all nine parts in a single day, and the experience was more like transcription than creation. To give you a sense of the scale, I tend to finish no more than one poem a week – and this was nine in less than eight hours.

I’m calling the work The Book of Crow, and I owe huge amounts of inspiration to Ted Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, and Max Porter, all of whom have shared their visits with Crow. The poems themselves took on the nature of the titular presence, hoarding shiny words as they occurred:  overcrow was a typo, while “okie-doke” and “grieves” were overheard and were incorporated in the word-nest. The series begins with a nursery rhyme I heard children singing in my dream. For whatever reason, I can’t get the word “medieval” out of my mind in connection with the rhyme, although I know of know historical precedent for it. Refrains and phrases from this starting point blend, reflect, and intermix throughout the rest of the poems. I considered publishing the poems one at a time, but like a murder of crows, each poem is cawing at the others; they should be experienced as a collective. Look for it here next Saturday!

Oh, and this one is certainly more Ceridwen’s than mine.