Larry D. Thomas
In A Murder of Crows, Larry D. Thomas has artfully assembled decades of his writing about birds into a single volume of poetry. Thomas divides the collection into four sections. The first, “With Concentrated Grit,” begins with a sparrow that “hops / easily its height, and quietly // explodes into flight… / flaunting for a moment its earth // tone browns and grays.” It ranges through a whole aviary, from sparrows and pigeons (“the urban version / of the buzzard”) to yellow-rumped warblers, house finches, and an old blue jay “arrogant / as a late Picasso, / raging beneath a blanket / at an auction.” Section two, “Eyeing the Gulf,” begins with “the mad / weightless dash” of a sanderling chick’s life and continues through herons that could be “outgrowths / of the river itself” through laughing gulls “in rowdy reverence” through a whole range of seabirds. The third section, “Deft at Tearing Out Hearts,” begins with the eagle for whom “everything that moves / is potential prey” and follows a “trajectory of violence” that includes the hawk “preying for rain” in Presidio whose “only water / was the blood of his prey” and the falcon “praying / his scarlet prayer / of devourment.” The crow, the heart and soul of the collection, is the subject of the final section, which shares its title, “A Murder of Crows,” with the whole. “History reeks,” Thomas writes, with “the ineradicable / blackness” of the crow’s ink. His crow poems speak to the crow “as metaphor, / for thousands / of years, / you’ve charged // our psyches, / forging / the dark iron / of your being // into symbols / of life, death / and the scales / of justice.” Thomas offers the reader a primeval, poetic force appropriate to the terror of our times, “revealing as we breathe / the ravenous, reeking / psyche of our kind” — a fitting tribute to the author of Crow, Ted Hughes, whose work Thomas has long admired, and to whose memory the collection is dedicated.
thanks to both photographers for permission to use their work!