Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Composition Ravens

I started this blog to help promote my first book of poems, Freshly Rooted, and hopefully to start a conversation about poetry, Alaska, poetry in Alaska, and everything in between.

Here is a poem from the collection:

Composition: Ravens

Three black knives
cleave morning air.
Snow has softened the sound
but even driving
beside them, we hear
the slicing of wings.
One has a bright orange
peel, the other two stroke,
young swimmers, toward
the concrete wall, kick
off at exactly
the right moment,
toward the highway,
guardrail left
quivering and greasy
in their wake.
They could spend
all morning breaking each
others’ hearts, doling out
the energy they need
to survive the night—
aching to capture the bright
orange jewel, to decorate
their own mouths,
flashing, iridescent
against a white canvas,
loving their terrible bodies.


Elise said...

Hi Emily, I love this poem, especially
"aching to capture the bright
orange jewel, to decorate
their own mouths"

Just beautiful!

RobynLynn said...

What I love most about this poem is how the speaker puts herself into the ravens' heads ... she knows their desire. So there's really two levels of empathy here -- the reader into the speaker's joy and experience, and the speaker into the ravens'.

I also love the conflict of opposites: black & white, have & have not, burning & amassing energy. It raises the stakes -- heehee -- something my writing prof taught me.

Janice said...

"Three black knives"

I love the idea of ravens as knives. They are "sharp" clever birds (have you read any of Bernd Heinrich's writings about ravens?). But, they seem sharp in other ways, with their smooth wings and long beaks. This image really works for me.

And, the orange is such a great contrast. You can really see the scene- black birds competing for an orange peel.

Great use of color to build an image.

There's an undercurrent of emotion as well- something about "breaking each other's hearts" and the conflict between the birds gives this an almost desperate tone.

I like it!

:-) Jan

Emily said...

Thanks Jan!

I have read Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich and I recommend it to anyone!

I am getting really interested in writing natural history into poems. I want to see how natural elements can be more than just symbols for our own emotions, but rather tools to impart actually information, and in turn, maybe that information will reveal things about the human condition we haven’t considered before.

Do you write poems? If so, please feel free to post one here!

Janice said...

Word Quilter

You can tell your story.

that heaviness in your heart
is the weight of remnants and scraps.
they are various and a sundry heartaches
and disappointments
and losses

You haven’t discarded them
You’ve got them
all squirreled away
hidden away
in bags behind doors
and under the bed
and in that ragged cardboard box
in that closet at the very back of your heart

what are they?
what do they look like?
are they irregularly shaped bits and pieces of once beautiful things?
can they be cut and trimmed and pieced together

sewn together
fitted together and quilted to make sense of the parts that remain?

A Quilt
reinforced around all the edges with tiny little stitches
to make it strong

You could curl up under it against a dark and cold night

and it would be beautiful.

Janice Walton 3/30/2007

Emily said...


I like your poem! I love extended metaphor poems like this one that keep surprising us all the way throughout.

I especially like the lines:

"all squirreled away
hidden away
in bags behind doors
and under the bed."

Thanks for sharing this! Have you sent it out to any journals for publication?

Janice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janice said...


No. I'm actually not very brave about sharing my poetry. I did have some of my poems published in Angelo State University's literary magazine, "Oasis."

I like what I write and usually just send it in emails to my good friends, and to a poet friend of mine in Florida who was my creative writing teacher in high school. You may have come across some of her work- Anne McCrary Sullivan. She has such a voice- amazing.

Anyway, thanks for the note. I'll think about submitting some of my work somewhere.

:-) Jan

Emily said...


Yes, you definitely should! If you're in Southeast consider submitting to our UAS journal Tidal Echoes next year.

Shawn R. Jones said...

Hi Emily,

I enjoyed your poetry. I have a poetry chapbook, titled Womb Rain, published by Finishing Line Press. It is now for sale on amazon also. You might enjoy it!

Keep writing beautiful poetry!