multiple metallic plates
in my head from drunken fall
down concrete steps back in day
like the yarrow-edged side roads
we walked barefoot in the summer.
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: I was all ready to be an asshole and say things like "WHY DO I LET THE TOAD 'POEMS THAT ARE WORSE THAN PHILIP LARKIN'S POEM "TOAD"' SQUAT ON MY LIFE?" and just to prove to me that I am awful this poem turned out to be an unrepentant killer of idiots like me. "It isn't easy to catch a living thing and hold it until it pees on you in fear" is weirdly heavy, and the less said about "a cold-bloodedness, like Keats at the end" the better lest I disgrace myself further (not actually possible). I am not saying this is this year's "Mushrooms" by Laura Kasischke because that is not really a fair thing to say about or expect of anything but holy shit this one. "Toth Farry" would have done well enough against probably the better part of this year's Rumblists but this is like Shawn Michaels mouthing "I love you; I'm sorry" before super-kicking Ric Flair into retirement. I don't know if it's like that at all actually, I am still trying to collect myself over here.
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: Your special connection to corvidae is well known and I feel that I should probably go so far as to break with our conventions (such as they are) and cede the hantei in this instance to you, or maybe that wouldn't be appropriate because you would be too soft on crow poems? Or maybe actually too hard? "Compendium on Crows" gets around any of those kinds of considerations by being so unyieldingly sikk that anyone who reads it, even if they had neither loved nor so much as known a crow, would be won to its cause. "Two crows or one: sorrow and joy have nothing to do with them. Meat does" is unreal, as is "Brains so sharp they know everything at once and don’t sort it into parts, their caw, caw, caw parsed only by the dead in the stench of the gut" and maybe even more so there's "They have no gods of punishment or absolution. They have no stations. Yet, without exception, they dote on their young, give them what they lack, pluck the songbird’s newly hatched like living plums" which is maybe best of all, and it's not like there are other parts of the poem that aren't as good as those parts, because that's pretty much the whole poem, it's in, it's out, and you are left murdered (oh shit). I will mention only briefly a policy I adopted several years ago of always at least *trying* to see where a crow was when I heard it and this approach to crows has rewarded me nearly every time I have been outside since I adopted it. Let's see about this other poem, but I already feel bad for it. Ah ok, "The Outstretched Earth" is fine but nothing to write home about, let's go back to thinking about crows.
WINNER: "Compendium on Crows"
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: To be honest I don't give the least shit about "A Severe Lack of Holiday Spirit," if you can't get through winter, which is beautiful, without descending into dumb misery you don't even deserve winter (I have no idea what that means). Seventy-five centimetres of snow in seventy-hours here last week, it was unreal. The part about a duck blasted out of the sky calls to mind, does it not, the NYer cartoon about one duck flying next to another and saying something like "Well, it's that time of the year where sometimes the guy next to you just explodes," which is an all-time great NYer cartoon imo. Everybody likes redwing blackbirds, and I expected a nice little poem about them, but then this one ups things considerably by being from the perspective of one, and a *lady* one at that; it is minorly exquisite.
WINNER: "Redwing Blackbird"