Tuesday, May 7th, 2013...6:31 pm

ronald baatz | three poems

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Where are the dead crows?
Never do I see any around the house,

not in the garden, not on the road out front.
I’ve never seen a dead crow on the roof of the house.

In all my years, never have I seen a single dead crow.
They are eveywhere, crows are,

but where are all the dead ones?
A dead crow should be easy to spot.

Especially in snow.
I’m surprised we are not tripping over dead crows.

Where is the place they go to die?
I do not want to stumble upon it by accident.

Not in my worst nightmares
do I want to see this place.

No doubt the vultures
don’t want to go there either.

Not even God
could eat so much crow.


Approaching the cafe where often I’ll retreat for a drink
in the afternoon, I notice small children running in the street
yelling at the top of their voices, “Frederico is dead, Frederico
the genius is dead.” They yell this again and again and
whenever these words reach anyone’s ears you can see pain
grab hold of the face. I have no idea who this Frederico was but,
whoever he was, he was very dearly loved and I don’t think
he is in need of another person mourning his death, genius
or no genius. I sit down and try to gain the waiter’s attention,
but no matter how much I motion to this withered individual he
remains oblivious to me. Like everyone else, he is staring
in wide-eyed disbelief at the television placed over the bar.
On the screen there is the expressionless face of an old man,
head resting on a pillow in peaceful demeanor. As I
get closer to the bar I hear a woman, who is embracing
an infant close to her breasts, say in a devastated whisper,
“Frederico is dead, Frederico is dead.” Who was this Frederico
and why is everyone weeping because he is dead?
Then, when I look up at the screen, to my amazement
I realize that this man’s face resembles my uncle, a man
I had been very close to in childhood, and who had died
unexpectedly one hot afternoon when his heart suddenly
gave out like a bicycle tire worn thin as tissue paper.
This resemblance causes my heart to swell with love
and I want to embrace the woman so that I can share
in her sorrow, and also to help protect her infant from the
harm that can come to it in this dangerous world. But,
I do no such thing. Instead, I weave through the crowd
and with heavy heart enter the street to make my way back
to my hotel where there is bread, cheese and wine.
As I turn the corner I collide with a woman who
is trying to hide, in her hands, mascara tears that are
running down her face. My first impulse is to grab this
woman and firmly hold her, and ask her the question
which has been tormenting my mind since I first heard
the name Frederico, “Who was he, and why such
sorrow and chaos in the streets because he is dead?”
But before I can say a word she slips by me.
In my room I find the dead man’s face on the television.
Unfortunately no one is speaking, only the sound
of air being tightly squeezed through a trumpet
can be heard. I drink the red wine and eat the
solemn bread and the warm soft cheese, my eyes
forming tears that threaten to overwhelm with grief.
Finally, when the flood does break loose, tears
flow until not another blessed tear can be shed.
I turn the television off and it goes dark and quiet
and I simply sit on the edge of the bed, light
from the street exposing the powerless ends of the room.
Perhaps Frederico’s genius consisted in nothing more
than the ability to infuse the human soul with great sorrow.
What other conclusion can I come to?
Yes, this has to be the case. Perhaps
all his life he has brought people to tears.
Dying is his final masterpiece. I am pierced by feelings
of admiration and envy. Yes, envy. I am envious
of the purity and the uniqueness of his genius.
But I don’t care to know more about this man.
Perhaps, once he is forgotten, the world he inhabited
will become less of a sorrowful place to endure.
Maybe there will be much singing in the churches
and taverns and not so many sorrowful, wandering
women in the streets.


It was the summer Sara was dying,
cancer had her closed up in her house,
and it was difficult to visit her because of
the odor of dying skin. Irwin, the landlord,
who spent his summers in the barn located
behind the house I rented, talked about old age,
of living another year or two. He had stopped
sleeping in the loft because he didn’t want to risk
climbing the stairs anymore. It was the summer
when the nearest neighbors didn’t show up and
the grass around their house got as tall as the grass
in the back field. There were many skinny brown foxes,
a horrid abundance of mosquitoes, a vulture which
seemed to live alone, its head growing redder and redder
as the summer wore on, until I thought it was going to
burst into flames. A black spider appeared in the bedroom.
It was easily as large as the palm of my hand.
It was a spider I had to kill, and kill it I did,
with the heal of a sneaker. It was a sneaker
still damp from my walk across the back field
the night before. It wasn’t a sneaker dark from
the night before, just damp. Darkness cannot
cling to sneakers. It is eternal and it clings to
moods and eyes and the endeavors of the soul,
but it cannot cling to a sneaker like a wet blade
of grass can.

More on Ronald Baatz can be found via his web page by clicking here…

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