How Crows Talk and Willows Walk
Though the preface to Gary Esarey’s volume claims “this little book [is] not art and craft but a parody of art, a grim bouffe stiffened by hard weather and cold,” it is a fitting introduction to the playful and often hilarious poems within. With titles such as “Pinch ruddy those cheeks of slumber” (“Pastel-gray on black/ the streaks of May do jog awake, / the clouding night the day / doth disendarkle…”) and “Trixi leaves town behind” (“Tacoma— / it rebuffs improvement / with time its smell diminishes / its virtue is not overpraised…”), Esarey tips off the reader: expect parody, musical language, and humor in this work.
The full text of Gary Esarey’s How Crows Talk and Willows walk is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
Women are to blame for my ugliness
they keep bringing it up
just once I nearly danced but not since
junior high; being crazy excused me
I could find no business in my head
I felt like a bear reared up with a fish in my mouth
because I am more snouted and gluttonous than a school boy.
Some names I heard my uncles say I want to live in
Whitehorse Yellowknife Okanogan they’re so artless
raw meat towns like Montana.
But if I were better looking
if I could drive to heaven in a Maserati—I’d go
through Vancouver and Seattle, I’d have faith in Jesus
though it meant no self respect.
Copyright © 1995 by Gary Esarey
Since 1990, Gary Esarey has worked for Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington as director of the foreign language media center. In this job he deals mostly with technologies in support of foreign language instruction. His background includes years of work in English as a Second Language (ESL), language lab technology, program administration and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh.
For many years Esarey taught English in the USA, Thailand and Singapore, and authored or co-authored several textbooks in ESL. Apart from teaching, he served as an administrator of language programs at the University of Pittsburgh and the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, before coming to Whitman.
Though for years suppressed below the level of daily preoccupation, poetry, according to Esarey, is an old habit, an old wound, an old vice, long neglected. Recently indulged, this addiction has been abetted by Esarey's return to the West, though southeast Washington is not exactly the West of his childhood. He admits to being born in Tacoma and, worse, never having got over it. It was a hard school.