I swear I still taste the earth, enriching my mouth,
smoke blessing my tongue’s stubborn thinking,
in the dreaming, driving me a little crazier
as everyone works the cloud of smoke up,
twirls it round our drinks and lost laughter.
Not that I won’t drink or laugh, but my heart, maybe
– I hope – just doesn’t pump with its once-juiced,
nic-longing stumble like it did, jolting out of step,
a new non-smoking third wheel, but gladly catching
hints, delicious in the night through the haze.
I do miss it. I miss it like the tobacco fields
flashing in my dreams, and the two old graves,
attentive so high up on the hill over-watching
each new leafy season, lingering, I want to believe,
on the spot I was born. That one riper spot of a row,
where my mother’s water broke, where the blood
ache flowed and pooled to a rest, where her cries
wailed, where all the afterbirth was tossed aside
for the patient crows gathering up overhead.
The only animal I dream of is the crow. Others are surely in there, arguing for time on the sleepy stage, maybe dancing elephants on marbles, a surprisingly calm conversation between sharks as they circle in on the trails of fresh blood, or some dogs in clown suits playing cards and erupting into a sword fight (they shout in Croatian, sub-titled with Viking Runes and neon cave drawings), but I don’t remember them. Only the persistent crow manages to remain perched off a branch of my waking, calling out its versed demands, snapping my spine straight with its taunts, its swoops over my head keep me agitated among the word hunting fields. Promising its message. Its lofty gifts. Some muse shadowed in the tree line too shy to step out into the true light. Its dark flights past sun down when I’m blinded and without words. What would I do without such a friend?
As the Crow Flies
No crow flies straight, after all.
They enjoy other means of navigation
besides clever human phrases.
We should wonder what a crow
calls out for when in the midst of flight.
What conversation can’t wait
until a limb or line? Perhaps it’s understandable
between their kind to call out mid-winged
on the wind for advice, wondering which way,
and, failing to see another, at least glide
to familiarity if answered. But,
if not, what then makes for navigable
decision making, other than hunger’s pain
I think they enjoy connecting
the dots as much as we did as children.
But for them it might be black roof to black roof,
the sweeping chimney smoke, azimuths
set from graveyards to lone hilltop trees
with histories, or chopped mountain tops
reddened with no trees. Flight here is a constancy
with green on green, the darks and missing
darks the only daylight guides.
And who among us walks straight
finding ourselves in an open field? None,
I’d think. We would meander, curious
and in relaxed weavings, letting
the feet speak with the ground more
than being led by the want of the eyes,
like I can imagine, unhurried, lonely
black wings do on the mindless winds.
Larry D. Thacker’s poetry can be found or is forthcoming in more than ninety publications including The Still Journal, Poetry South, Tower Poetry Society, Mad River Review, Spillway, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Mojave River Review, Mannequin Haus, Ghost City Press, Jazz Cigarette, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia and the poetry books, Voice Hunting and Memory Train, as well as the forthcoming, Drifting in Awe. He’s presently working on his MFA in both poetry and fiction. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com