Today's poem is by Terry Blackhawk

Escape Artist

A crow does not merely open its beak to cry
or sing, but presses its whole body forward,
playing itself like a bagpipe, pumping out
cranky, cranked-up rhythms. Early March,

branches bare of all but these new tenants
whose raucous calls begin well before dawn,
who daylong wheel from here to Bretton Drive,
conducting their business on our lawns.

All week I've watched them, filling our neighbors' trees,
displacing the air with their caws, less flock
than visitation. To my friend who'd have it
that the crow is negation made manifest—

a thing with claws that perches on her shoulder,
reciting endless tapes of whoever teased, carped,
hurt, abused—I'd say send those sad tales
through the maw of a ventriloquist's doll, a human

puppet she alone controls. For who can manage
the wild lift of wings? Who pass through the dark
windows crows place against the sky? If there's limit
in what we say, each word a fence or boundary,

it must be why the crows have gathered and gone now.
I miss the rough rush of their risings up and settlings down,
and that one I saw on Lancashire, dangling by its left foot
upside down from a wire. Electrocuted, I thought,

surely dead, the dank, bone-filled rag of it—
until it swiveled upright, flapped, then flew, glad,
I suppose, to have looked at the world in a new way,
to be leaving behind a dummy's point of view.

Copyright © 2003 Terry Blackhawk All rights reserved
from Escape Artist
BkMk Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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