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Ornithology
by
Ron Koertge


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Walking toward the library, I pass three children
staring down at a dead crow and daring each other
to poke it with a stick.

I stop, too, because I know a little about crows –
how, for instance, they are different from ravens.
I could tell these well-dressed children that:

ravens are black a with purple tint while crows
are denied that royal hue. A crow’s tale is squared-off
like the crew-cut on the boy at Menchie’s who hands
them the expensive frozen yogurt

while a raven’s tale is triangular, a shape discovered
by the Persians and beloved by the 17th century
mathematician Blaise Pascal. Furthermore, ravens
love solitude and prefer remote hills and woods
while a crow will perch on a stop sign and brag
about it endlessly.

But that isn’t what they are concerned about.
They want to know about Death. And for that
I would have to fetch the skull from my desktop
and ask the sun to hide its face behind a dark,
galleon-shaped cloud and then –

Oh, wait. They’re offering me the stick. All
they really want to know is will I poke the corpse.

Of course. And when I do and it moves, they
run away shrieking and delighted. More alive,
if possible, than before.

 

© by Ron Koertge.
Used with the author’s permission.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Ron Koertge blames a 3-month stint in bed with rheumatic fever at age 12 as the reason he became a writer. Raised in rural Illinois, he now lives in South Pasadena, California, and is retired after teaching English at Pasadena City College for thirty-seven years. In addition to poetry, Ron writes award-winning fiction for young adults--which is as quirky and irreverent as his poetry. Learn more about Ron at http://ronkoertge.com.

 


Post New Comment:
69Dorcas:
Nicely nuanced. I never wrote a crow poem. Loved your efforts.
Posted 08/14/2012 06:56 PM
John:
A strong poem. But tell me no tales. . . .
Posted 08/06/2012 05:38 PM
Larry Schug:
Viva, la crow!! and crow poems, especially magnificent poems like Ron's
Posted 08/06/2012 01:39 PM
Larry Schug:
Viva, la crow!! and crow poems, especially magnificent poems like Ron's
Posted 08/06/2012 01:38 PM
dorisd:
*Really* delightful poem! Thanks!
Posted 08/06/2012 08:47 AM
Glen Sorestad:
A wonderful poem, Ron. It ties the bird world to the human world in such a smoothly personal way. The details are superb. Crafted with great care.
Posted 08/06/2012 07:56 AM
mimi:
you can never have enough crow poems...thank you!
Posted 08/06/2012 07:34 AM
CamilleBalla:
This poem is so well written. I not only received a brief lesson in bird identification, but was left with a surprise lively ending. Oh, and I smilingly nodded about the expensive frozen yogurt. Oh, yeah. Have a great day!
Posted 08/06/2012 06:58 AM
LisaV:
fantastic poem Ron. Thank you.
Posted 08/06/2012 06:56 AM
jeanie:
love this!
Posted 08/06/2012 06:53 AM


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