Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

The Crow’s Lesson

A multitude of hungry words, scribbled on a scrap of paper, begs for just the merest pittance of the greater meaning bestowed by syntax. I stare and hear their cries, but next to hip, husk just looks like flask, for crying out loud. Besides, it’s clearly an empty one at that. The cat suggests that swilling single-malt could be the remedy of meaning that might make these words conform and stand in ordered lines.  Then he knocks a bottle off the bar, which is irksome, but not critical. I mean, what good is a cat’s advice on writing anyway? Sure, they’re decent spellers—everyone knows that—but for paragraphs, they don’t have much to offer. He looks at me with something like pity in his green eyes and asks if I’d like to help him lick up a puddle of Oban 14. I shake my head—not now, I’m working. I clean the broken glass and wrestle those words, but like scofflaw dreams on fitful nights where sleep, forgetting its starring role in the late show of my mind, lurks beyond the limelight in the shadows by the curtains, the words just lie there, scattered on paper, plum forgotten and ignored much like the clover extending across the lawn, dotted as it is with the wrappers of some confectioner’s dreams, reduced now to just the faintest sparkle, piquing only the interest of the passing crows who pluck them off the ground,  take them back to their nests and read the lists of ingredients to their children warning them away from words they don’t understand and can’t pronounce.

This is the result of staring at the word list from Read Write Prompt #92: Word Gems. I think I used them all. Go here to see what others made of the same list.

16 Comments

  1. This starts out with a bang and continues to the ending without slowing or drifting. Nice, nice!

  2. I like being amused. A clever play of imagery, and progression too. And only right and fitting that crows should here end the piece. Really, how nice to be surprised and amused. A lovely tail!

  3. Loved this. prose poetry is one great form of writing.

    for a pittance, you buy that confection

  4. Sneaky use of plum. I really like the crows.

  5. A delightful take on writer’s block — a poem which dramatizes the problem of not being able to put words together, at the same time that it succeeds in putting words together in strange and wonderful ways. I love this transformation in the poem: the first image of hungry, begging, crying words turns into the last image of warnings being read to hungry, begging, crying baby birds. This poem has a bit of Guy Noir, of animal fable, of personal monologue, of prose poem.

  6. piquing only the interest of the passing crows who pluck them off the ground, take them back to their nests and read the lists of ingredients to their children warning them away from words they dont understand and cant pronounce.

    love that so much. beautiful. interesting how an interaction between crow and human worlds involves language.

    • Thanks nubia. Crows are some of the smartest of the birds from what I’ve read. Maybe they understand more than we think. Actually, I suspect most animals do.

  7. A very clever and magical piece. I think the prose poem approach is absolutely right for this because it lends it more of a fable quality. Good stuff.

  8. This is fantastic, James. I love the part about the writing abilities of cats.

    • Thanks, Nathan. That bit actually comes from a long running joke around our house about why the cat seems to like to “help” when we’re at the computer.

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