ronald baatz | envying the crows

11 12 2010

Crow Dreaming | Painting by Norbert Blei

Poetry Dispatch No. 336 | December 11, 2010


There is no end to the poetry, the satisfaction, the comfort of finding myself again in the poems of Ronald Baatz that hover about me, especially now-in-the-hour of my solitary darkness…late night, early morning hours… older …not much wiser…alone…aching to return to better health…snug in my chair…any new or old book of his always within reach…poems, a poet I can never say enough about, a poet I have read for—fifty years? What do you have to say to me tonight in my despair, old friend? Take me to the landscape, rural Americana, we both share—you in the east, me in the northern Midwest…the bountifulness, bareness of the seasons that become our nature…the bread crumbs…the frozen garden…the naked branches…the quiet house…the loss of parents…friends…the absence of love…the grimace of a smile buried in so seemingly simple a line…just how few, exact words it takes to make a prayer to light forever low, distant, desirous. Tell me tonight about your envy of brother crow…this brand new poem you sent today, fluttering about me, coming into vision…settling momentarily in my open hand…3 o’clock in another dark morning of the soul…comfort me in the shining darkness…the chance of snow… —Norbert Blei


A cold winter day spent
reading, collecting tinder.
But, my god, the loneliness
of the hours was overwhelming.
With age it becomes more and
more apparent that I need to be
among people. I have to stop living
like a monk. Although, it is true,
monks do live with other monks.
They pray, take their meals together,
and perhaps life at the monastery
is not such a burden. I would never
have to eat alone in such a place.
Earlier, I stood eating a can of sardines
and a piece of unbuttered bread.
I envied the crows. From the
kitchen window I had seen them pecking
at the leftover rice I had thrown out.
The crows, that had arrived in a group
and that had left in a group.
Same as the sardines.

–Ronald Baatz




12 responses

11 12 2010

Excellent. Your comments and art as well as “Envying the Crows.”

11 12 2010
lowell b. komie

Norb,too sad. Eating out of a tin of sardines.Isn’t there a good deli in Door county where a poet can get a bowl of steaming borcht and some dumplings and maybe a shot of vodka?

11 12 2010
Barbara Vroman

Alone, alone…without love? Ah, Norbert, how many people love you is

And while Baatz poem is exellent, conveying deeply and touching us with eating out of the sardine can. That is not for you! You…THE LOVER OF WINTER!
YOU WHO BLESS THE SEASON THAT BRINGS YOU REST AFTER THE CROWDED SUMMER IN TOURiST DOOR. You who live in the past and the present and the future catching and celebrating and embracing every nuance of life.

Let the rest of us whine and holler and complain and fret. your destiny has always been to see the beauty, to the feel the magic, and to make othere feel it, and see it, and not let it passby. “Murmur to me in ice this morning, how it builds on the wave-tossed pilings—Incense burning morning, light of the golden dawn.. The mastery of all of that is still yours! A spirit like yours can mourn, but not despair! The Norbert I know would say, “Damn those
sardines are good…now where did I hide the crackers.”

11 12 2010
Jean Casey

Perfect symmetry….crows and sardines! Now that’s a poem!

12 12 2010
d. f. tweney

The last line is perfect, and makes the whole poem.

12 12 2010
Patty Williamson

Dear Norb,

We have met in person only once or twice, but like hundreds and hundreds of others, I feel we’re connected through your dispatches and count you as a friend. You’re never alone if you’re in a friend’s thoughts, and I think it’s unlikely there’s ever a time when that is not the case.

I just spoke with another DC friend and understand you have high winds tonight and the prospect of 8-12 inches of snow. St. Louis is expecting a dusting and an almost-unheard-of wind chill of -10 by morning.

Stay warm, feel better and, if sleep evades you, count the people to whom you are important. I hope our paths cross again in the spring.


12 12 2010
Judith Wiker

The vitreous transparency
of the naked truth
coveys a surprising comfort
in having witnessed
the simple awareness
ones own being….
I love the poem too.

12 12 2010

I’d like to have some poems of yours come out of “darkness of the soul” there is no place better to mine for thoughts. The little goodnesses take on gigantic proportions when the rest of the room is dark.

12 12 2010
Ralph Murre

Of course you are loved; you Norb, and Baba Ron Baatz as well. Does that mean we can’t allow you to acknowledge loneliness in your lives? To feel it? While I certainly agree with Barbara Vroman’s pep-talk motives, I think that poo-pooing the depth of feeling necessary to be the writers we adore is akin to telling the sea not to feel the troughs between its cresting waves, the dark sky the burning of its stars.

12 12 2010
Kris Thacher

A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says. “That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

13 12 2010

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”


I so enjoy your poetry dispatch emails! Know that you are never alone with all of the friends you have made! If I lived in DC, then I would call you up for coffee every day! Thank you for sharing this poem! It is a wonderful dipiction of the feelings a man gets on these cold days. Especially after this past blizzard. On these days, nature can be the best company as well.

Wishing you all the best,

14 12 2010
MaryAnn Grzych

Barbara Vroman said it all, beautifully!!

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