Counting Crows

Guy Birchard



Counting Crows



Shooting Crows Again

Time was, we lived odd
seasons on the prairie. Then

we witnessed first pasque flower break
sod, and the cranes’ high gyre.

Now I’m a townie, aint seen
a crocus in years, have no more than heard

the cranes’ weird croak way up.
Wind burns the snow and the snow

decomposes, the land so dry no melt
runs off. Shallow sloughs for waterfowl.

The crows are a good sight, back. I could
stand to be a crow, to make their play

in flight, to gang up in raucous confab, but for
the diet…

But cousin magpie succumbs to the new
Virus in the land. Rancher

says he don’t miss ‘em. “Bastards
peck fresh cattle brands!” I

miss them. I turn 55
this spring, stormstayed – no

excuses, lots less of the map to follow
than retrace, fiddlefooted as ever,

a man of no rank come to a place without merit.

Crows Go

Finally we die, opposable thumbs and all.

By the fall of the year (“Autumn”, English cousins
insist) everyone loves everyone, the lucky few

gone home: one Sidekick, two Elders, Elvin Jones. I
alone am left, running to town. Less whiskey, much less

smoke, un regale! and each is on his way. The public
mourns, but cheaply, tired by taxation. Bildad

and his buddies have nothing to add. Simply
put, I’m sad and forlorn – equable as Mother

taught. A hundred thousand miles (more) we’re
still four-wheeling, please God, the snow already

not far due north, and the leaves here only turning.
So everyone loves everyone, or better. Even

stumped, best answer duty’s call, calk and prune,
make sympathetic noises to the farmer who

aint about to see his best crop ever in the bin,
the rancher whose beef mill this side the Line.

I’d take my gun, serve justice cause, but that’s
verboten. Hunker. Hold yr tongue. Collect yr pay.

This shall be rewarded. The skies stay cloudy
all day. One’s final complaint thou shalt not make.

Equanimity and grace: one virtue: one blessing. Wanted.

For the record:

                “One is for bad news… Twelve’s joy tomorrow.”

                We owe Howard McCord for the crows poems. They are
for him – abrazo!

                The old friend I lost that spring is Ray Tremblay, a.k.a.
Ray Condo; the elders, George Johnston and Gael Turnbull.
                Running to town is country-boy vernacular that means

wasting time.

                Here be politics – BSE, West Nile – And drought – And
cold. So the song is pure romance. The skies are not cloudy all day. But they are.

is a word I have never heard in more

common parlance than in these parts.

                I’m not fifty-five any more. And I’m still here.

                            Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

                                                       1 February 2006

The editors of Poetry Salzburg Review and Damn the Caesars
indulged earlier drafts of these in their pages – Salut!







Kater Murr's Press, Piraeus Series, 2006. 
Poems copyright - Guy Birchard, 2006
Cover art by Anne Heeney; copyright - Anne Heeney, 2006