By Eve Rifkah
though he knows he wants to fly see the world from the sky the pinpricks of life below no, it’s the voices, the way they call to each other the leader going ahead watching for those that follow making sure the rest keep up and the kids the yearlings the babysitters learning how it’s done the maintenance of the young he calls to the murder in the backyard with the plastic caller but doesn’t know the words precise the dialect of this particular family or understand the answering caws corvid crow magpie raven jay black and blues oh, it is the blues he feels now the hint of blue flash in the coal black the light glint on feathers even though he wears black stretches his arms swears he can thinks corvine but not enough to pass to lift from gravity to fly away to call the others to him spies himself in the mirror slumps away he knows two legs his fate yet the cat’s ears twitch one day a crow in the maple out front drops a feather he watches its back and forth descent to the sidewalk the feather now in a small blue jar
the cat sings not to the light of the moon the cat sings to the guitar playing softly or not nearby. the man plays the guitar sometimes electric sometimes not sitting on the old settee lost in his own world of sound pouring through fingers to string the cat has been around for a long time this singing business something new an appreciation perhaps for the man and his music or just a desire to sing along the cat sings softly loses a line here or there adding in rest stops or lost in dream until the right notes strike
In tiny variety store girls show the kid kittens in back room. Owner wants homes. The kid tells the dad want kitten want holding soft alive want something real to love. At six weeks, the kid carries tiny meow voice pinprick claws tiger home. The kid names Tippy the dad asks why that name the kid shrugs sounds like a cat name. The dad gets a box fills with dirt bathroom dad says. The ma mumbles about cleaning about smell. When kitten becomes cat goes in an out until the day car going fast cat crossing street gone.
The kid tries again at little store another litter. The kid picks black and white tuxedo, store man said. This one named Mr. Tuffy. On TV a man teaches linoleum block printing. The dad buys x-acto knives, linoleum ink and roller. The kid draws portrait of cat with perfect heart on chest the dad explains transfer drawing to linoleum everything cut away white what remains black. The kid makes cards sends to family. Mr. T settles in until the day out minding own cat business when dog outa nowhere all angry teeth. The kid retreats to lonely again as the dad buries the dead.
When crows fly backwards time will erase our pain. If feathers fall from the sky darkening the ground, we shall know the answers we are not permitted now. You will leave your doors unlocked and travel someplace you have never been. Recant your dreams. Ask forgiveness for reality and dreamscapes merge into one memory. You will not know what happened in space or mind thoughts can only seduce the thinker. desire only kindness not all desires are met there is much resistance. if you remove your dark lens you will see more than you wish to see not all is beautiful darkness is necessary though you can sleep with sunlight melting into skin. prophecies are made of dust and sometimes facts depend on who is the speaker. Crows will return to ease our end feathers mingling with the earth.
Eve Rifkah was co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc. (1998-2012), a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Founder and editor of DINER, a literary magazine with a 7-year run. MFA Vermont College.
She is author of “Dear Suzanne” (WordTech Communications, 2010) and “Outcasts the Penikese Leper Hospital 1905-1921” (Little Pear Press, 2010). Chapbook “Scar Tissue”, (Finishing Line Press, 2017), “At the Leprosarium” 2003 winner of the Revelever Chapbook Contest.
One thought on “Backyard Murder and Other Poems”
Eve Rifkah’s poem “Backyard Murder” appears to take the reader on a visual, as well as highly interesting tour, of different the aspects of everyday living. I found myself re-reading various lines, and having slightly different takes each time. Frank Kowal