Working at it for more than a quarter-century, Douglas Valentine has become widely known as a writer, researcher, and historian, a standing that readers can verify by taking a trip to his web site. A Crow’s Dream, however, is this prolific author’s first appearance as a poet—and what an appearance it is.
Valentine proves himself master of the poetic line, with not only a brilliant eye and ear for creating spectacularly perfect line-endings, but with the same alertness for finding and harvesting other kinds of goings-on inside the lines. Listen to this first of the two stanzas that make up “Shadow Land” and see if you don’t hear the musical tones of a Robert Herrick:
A freckled girl with tangled hair
Dances in a sun-splashed field of grass
Oblivious to the buzzing bees
Twirling barefoot in a rumpled dress—
And then listen further, to the rest of this tiny, ten-line story—
Her world is a blur around her:
The forsythia hedge, her house on the hill,
The soaring locust trees and the ancient ash
With its one impossible branch—
Upon which sits an observant boy.
If you wonder where all that music is hiding, read the last word of each line to hear some of the melody of hidden rhyme, then go back inside the lines for still more music—all the way to the last toneless note that touches, as quietly as a falling feather, on the presence of little Satan in the tree.
Read these poems, please, not only with your eyes but with your ears—and heart, one dares say. Consider the following, arguably the best poem so far on the subject of the occasion it marks:
The Hand Is Faster Than The Eye
(Composed 11 September 2001)
I learned that lesson long ago,
It was the first articulated truth:
“The hand is faster than the eye,”
Said the raven to the youth.There is love, and then betrayal.
There is a cause, and then there’s none.
Then Mandrake lifts his velvet cape
And all you ever knew is gone.
Read excerpts from A CROW’S DREAM here.