running by the river on the longest night of the year




running by the river

on the longest night of the year


the sky dimming

against world’s edges

the city bridge fades to silhouette

stark wooden limbs emerge in relief

stenciled against the darkening gold sky

i descend below

by the mississippi

here a loud din

from the crows

urgent and bright in the dim light

an allegory for the call

to the underworld

we are late for dinner

get here!

coming from the filmy ruins

as if my dark archetype

my fallen mother

will soon blend herself out from a shadow,

the dark branch

a finger stepping forth

away from the bark

from the skin

they are everywhere

a black flock

a family gathering loudly for the night

in flight

swooping down

landing along the bank’s hills

soft womanly mounds

the clearness of daylight fading murky

the tufts of dead grass tangled

amidst the folds of sand.

they enter

through the high wide arms of the matriarch

expansion of all that is

etched darkly against the translucent palace

the filmy sky

black birds,


opaque marauders,

cacophony calling

within harmony and out


where shall we bed tonight

kkaw! koww!

are they talking to me?



their sharp beaks in profile

poised for flight

even at rest

there are hundreds.

no one is here

at the bottom of the city

would anyone hear if i disappeared?

like an eye closing

there is the night

many times i’ve gone down to the river

just below the surface of

what we know as everything

the traffic the noise

the people their lives

hurrying along

invisible to each other

whispering to my mind

my only companion

no one would hear me here.

no one would know

Will the 3-legged crow come

to bring me home

to protect my places

a moon child

residing in the sun

a tiger baby

among 8-span wings

could i live there with them

buried in their presence

learning their language

recasting the dark fables

that malign them

will they feed me when i am old?

will i grow old?

joy harjo says every blackbird has a thousand lives

and what of crows?

an omen of change

harbinger of death

a murder of crows

a fellow poet said

that to say a “murder of crows”

is cliche

some say the name comes

from a fear of their blackness

some even called them feathered-apes

crow and apes both highly intelligent

and social and of close-knit families

humans told them to be  dark and feared

both animals are known

to remember a face

and remember the good or evil

of that face

is that the real fear

a long meticulous memory?

others say the reason for the name

is because  crows will gather

as a jury to decide the capital fate

of a member

the name remains too

from a more poetic time

from whence came

a parliament of owls

a knot of frogs

a skulk of foxes.

we could say a murder of humans

whenever there is violence in our hearts

and we gather to judge

to  bring a life to its death.

3 legged crow10/18/15–in progress

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