Murder in the Morning

Crows mock the coming of the day
heckling every suggestion of light
filling every inch of naked twig
on bare poplar flung dangerously to the sky
and on leafless maples which, in summer or fall
are watercolour forms of things children call trees,
but in winter are row upon row
of hard plastic seats

Thousands, tens of thousands of
crying, jeering, laughing, hacking
football fan crows,
the arena’s thundering crowd crying for blood

A hundred thousand crows
as far from the snow that primes the land
as roosting fowl may be
even houses shut up tight to February frost
can only dim the din
the flowing, rolling, pitching roar
of crows murdering the morning

I sigh, arise, blunder bleary-eyed through the dark
skirting creeky stairs and kitchen chairs,
my line is clear:
water, wood stove, and words

And then I see:
it was not the crows that compelled me
from my winter cocoon of
lamb’s wool layers and rare-won sleep

It was words that woke the light
and brought the day
a million unvoiced minds waiting to be pressed
in lines on this blank page
it is their call that killed my dreams
those shapeless, rootless, formless tales
that have no beginning, no end
it was words that woke me from
the endless middle that is night

So I will write
never knowing if all these words
are rust on hinges of the wicket gate
or snatching shouts from the howling gale
or ten million grating notes
like restless nomad crows that mock the coming of the day

Never knowing if they are any good

I will work these words through morning light
and as my family wends their way to school
and other men take up shovel,
or calculator—
and as those damnèd crows break up their riot
to sweep across the land
pillaging strangers’ garbage bins
and waking those for whom night is work or worry and no friend—
as all the world around me wakes
and jolts into its usual place
I will fight these words

Never knowing if I should

Then, tonight, as the sun slides behind the poplars
and every skinny branch is lit with
mocking, raucous, indomitable crows
my son and I will sneak outside
to slam the lid of the garbage bin

So with that gunshot crash the din is stilled
for the sixth part of the second after the big bang
total silence, and then
the rush of a hundred million wings that take to flight
and beat the air like open gates
in a howling gale

And my words will cease, there with my son
and we will be quiet together
for the simple wonder of it all

And this, at least, is good.

Though I cannot sleep and believe crows to be evil in general, this really is a local thing and kind of cool, Below is a gorgeously witty and visual film on the crows that live in my neighbourhood. The Crow Agenda was filmed by Jeremy Larter (Director and Producer of Pogey Beach (2019) and Just Passing Through (2013)) and Jason Arsenault (Producer of the new Adam Perry film, A Small Fortune (2021). I also like to grab a Receiver coffee at the Fox & Crow, the UPEI campus pub, while listening to The Noisy Crows, a local rock band, or enjoying the annual March of Crows. See below for a short film by Ashley Duong that I found on CBC on the March of Crows, and an earlier live video of The Noisy Crows at our local record store, Back Alley.

CBC PEI Photo, 2019

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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9 Responses to Murder in the Morning

  1. traildustfotm says:

    Brenton, thank you for being the first in my circle to have literary fun with a “murder of crows.” I loved it.


    • Thanks so much! I don’t often write poetry, and have never really posted any.


    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      So many and varied things to like here (though like’s a puny word)! The possibility of that group name was the first that struck me, and the stadium seating that seems a fine contrast with Shakespeare’s “Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang”, and that repeated “howling gale” that makes me irresistibly contrast your shouts and crows with Blake’s “invisible worm, That flies in the night In the howling storm”, and aural resemblance of “roosting fowl” to “roasting fowl” (and thence ‘eating crow’?) . But fascinating is that juxtaposition of visualization of audible phenomenon and the words calling to be written – interaction beyond juxtaposition or contrast – meeting or crows crying to be written about and words to be written? – in any case yielding words about quiet of wonder! Thanks!


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Oops: meeting or>meeting of

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for this nice note, David! A poet should never read his literary critic: the critic will always find better and more sophisticating things in it. Writers are best at that point to smile and nod!
        I know Shakespeare but have only ever pretended to read Blake at parties (besides some bits, and not this bit). I thought of choirs (and military, though that’s not in the poem). The roosting –> eating crow is far more sophisticated than my brain could have pulled off at sunrise, but well done!


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