Crow Song and Earworm Ballad

by Erik Amundsen

You don't see the liquid weight inside,
when the egg spins, the girls come to the coop,
nest to nest, while the occupants call;
and they're hungry, and this littlest girl
scatters eyes in the yard, the egg spinners
watch for eggs with straws, wax and dyes.
What did you learn, when you went to the fire?
They told you a tale of ears and earworms,
eggs and netsuke. There are some recesses
in this carved knuckle, and something moves
from crevice to crevice when you're not looking,
the birds all, to rest, roost together, get close
in straw from the moon. She waxes and dies;
like a netsuke, they are tangled in feathers,
tangled in beaks, locked in a rookery, crows call,
are not fully still, but the eggs, they keep hatching
they are like songs in the ear, and you sing them
in silence, those same songs over and over,
as your mind broods them, as your mind hatches
and a skull full of crows, crowded in, it's the illness
that comes when the ballad season, wet and dark,
appears in the house and the ballads are catching.
Wash your hands, lose your lover, end your life
in a stream; the shadow of scarecrows, a notion
of the hierarchy of the dead. No room to fly,
the eggs just keep hatching, the crows tear and peck
at your eyes from inside, fused together, a bezoar stone,
a crow-pearl in the mind's eye,

and the song plays along the surface, shiny
as a lover's last, tangled as carved netsuke.

Taken broadly, Erik Amundsen has had an interesting life; he's been a baker, an itinerant schoolteacher, worked for two governments and gotten in bar fights overseas. He now lives at the foot of a cemetery in central Connecticut where he writes nasty little stories and poems that shuffle around in the night when he's not looking. Or at least he hopes it's them; something's got to be making those noises and it's not the furnace. When asked what poem the word "cherry" reminds him of, he must hang his head in shame, for it's John Donne's "The Flea," for the obvious and puerile reasons. Amundsen, apparently, has further to go than he thought on some issues.

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