By Eve Rifkah

Backyard Murder

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

House Music

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
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

Mr. T

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.

Resistance crow

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

  1. 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


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