Published on Academy of American Poets (

For I Will Consider the Lone Crow at Angels Landing

For she rides updrafts with scalloped hands, interrogating air.
For in the kingdom of lift, she has few peers. 
For she bullies the hawk and drops stones on a snapping fox.
For her trickster ways coalesce into spirals.
For I pine for a Muse so wild with wind.
For she counts murderous drop-offs as nothing.
For my quicksilver thoughts cling to her, like spume on a wave.
For she disdains the safety chains we grasped to climb here—
            but not the shimmer of my Yankees cap.
For her blackness kindles blue fire. 
For if only she would mistake my arm for a branch.
For I can freeze her feathers on film but not their glow.
For she shrugs off myths like a singer shedding stale arias.
For she offers no elegy to those who slip—not even a caw.
For her errands of air map the sky with longing.
For she hops towards me now, part beggar, part Baryshnikov.
For she puts up with berries and nuts but prefers pastrami.
For she snaps the heads off locusts.
For she fills her craw with gravel and chews the world twice.
For if only I could relax into knowing.
For she rubs herself with crushed ants to keep off parasites.
For she flies straight into the oculus of What if?
For I will call her Mischief Girl, or Odin.
For she jeers at prayer and says I am my own Zion.
For darkness is no more to her than dust on her wings.  

                                                            (After Christopher Smart)   


Copyright © 2016 by Lance Larsen. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

About this Poem

"I’ve long been fascinated by crows, their shabby beauty, their elegant trickster ways. They're a fixture at Zion's, whether grubbing food from hikers or casually patrolling Angels Landing, one of the most popular and infamous landmarks in the park—popular because the views are so spectacular, infamous because the cliffs are so precipitous. How casually crows navigate these crags, their grace a kind of taunt to clumsy bi-peds like me. I also wanted to pay tribute to a favorite poet of mine, Christopher Smart, by borrowing the same structure he uses in praising his electric cat, Jeoffry."
Lance Larsen


Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen is the author of Genius Loci (University of Tampa Press, 2013).

Date Published: 2016-12-13

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