Monday, February 7, 2011

Raymond Carver / My Crow and other poems

Raymond Carver


A crow flew into the tree outside my window.
It was not Ted Hughes’s crow, or Galway’s crow.
Or Frost’s, Pasternak’s, or Lorca’s crow.
Or one of Homer’s crows, stuffed with gore,
after the battle. This was just a crow.
That never fit in anywhere in its life,
or did anything worth mentioning.
It sat there on the branch for a few minutes.
Then picked up and flew beautifully
out of my life.


there was a plumb-line
sunk deep into the floor
of a spruce valley
near Snohomish
in the Cascades
that passed under
Mt Rainier, Mt Hood,
and the Columbia River
and came up
in the Oregon rainforest
a fern leaf.


A break in the clouds. The blue
outline of the mountains.
Dark yellow of the fields.
Black river. What am I doing here,
lonely and filled with remorse?

I go on casually eating from the bowl
of raspberries. If I were dead,
I remind myself, I wouldn’t
be eating them.
It’s not so simple.
It is that simple.


3 fat trout hang
in the still pool
below the new
steel bridge.
two friends
come slowly up
the track.
one of them,
wears an old
hunting cap.
he wants to kill,
that is catch & eat,
the fish.
the other,
medical man,
he knows the chances
of that.
he thinks it fine
that they should
simply hang there
in the clear water.
the two keep going
but they
discuss it as
they disappear
into the fading trees
& fields & light,


A matinee that Saturday
    afternoon Sound of Music
Your coat on the empty seat
            beside me
        your hand in my lap
we are transported
to Austria
somewhere along the Rhine
In any of these old
beautiful towns
we could live quietly
a hundred years
you put on an apron
fix me a cup of tea with a slice of lemon
on Radio Monitor
Herb Alpert
and the Tijuana Brass
play Zorba the Greek
We also overhear
part of a conversation
with Dizzy Dean
On the floor
beside the bed Esquire
Frank Sinatra
surrounded by flaming cigarette lighters
Maxim Gorky
under the ashtray
Your head on my arm
we smoke cigarettes
and talk of lake Louise
Banff National Park
the Olympic
neither of us has seen
heat lightning
the first heavy drops of rain
strike the patio
How splendid these gifts


This morning was something. A little snow
lay on the ground. The sun floated in a clear
blue sky. The sea was blue, and blue-green,
as far as the eye could see.
Scarcely a ripple. Calm. I dressed and went
for a walk—determined not to return
until I took in what Nature had to offer.
I passed close to some old, bent-over trees.
Crossed a field strewn with rocks
where snow had drifted. Kept going
until I reached the bluff.
Where I gazed at the sea, and the sky, and
the gulls wheeling over the white beach
far below. All lovely. All bathed in a pure
cold light. But, as usual, my thoughts
began to wander. I had to will
myself to see what I was seeing
and nothing else. I had to tell myself this is what
mattered, not the other. (And I did see it,
for a minute or two!) For a minute or two
it crowded out the usual musings on
what was right, and what was wrong—duty,
tender memories, thoughts of death, how I should treat
with my former wife. All the things
I hoped would go away this morning.
The stuff I live with every day. What
I’ve trampled on in order to stay alive.
But for a minute or two I did forget
myself and everything else. I know I did.
For when I turned back I didn’t know
where I was. Until some birds rose up
from the gnarled trees. And flew
in the direction I needed to be going.


Forget all experiences involving wincing.
And anything to do with chamber music.
Museums on rainy Sunday afternoons, etcetera.
The old masters. All that.
Forget the young girls. Try and forget them.
The young girls.
And all that.

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