A Review of Michael N Thompson’s A Murder of Crows

By James H Duncan

Yes, Thompson can write a good poem about the rough-and-tumble lifestyle on the road or that outcast troubadour who doesn’t want to end up as the “local hero” poet. These are entertaining indeed and he can work the coffee- and whiskey-stained memories into a fine set of stanzas, but it’s when he explores a specific person, place, or theme beyond the poet that Thompson’s work separates itself from the rest of the jackal pack.

The first poem in the collection that really sank in the claws was the Twin Peaks-inspired “Fire Walk With Me,” exploring the “would-be heroes” chasing after “an abhorrent devil” in the deeps dark woods of humanity’s night. Follow that with “Memphis,” a poem dedicated to (and seemingly told by) the late great Jeff Buckley, telling us “don’t let the ghosts I’ve exorcised / become sad laments.” What a hell of a request from beyond the grave. These standout poems light up the landscape of this collection like cities on the road-trip horizon, and there’s something wonderful that happens when Thompson takes the lines about loners and drifters and hard-asses and applies them to something greater than just another poet rambling around, to some social or cultural trope, weaving a greater mythos into the day-to-day—these are the poems that truly shine and stand out best in this collection.

And it’s a damn fine collection of force and grit, gorgeously packaged inside and out by Hell Press. Throughout the book we meet all sorts of down-and-out characters, their stories told in Thompson’s acerbic and darkling voice, from Madame Lucy, the last of the live nude girls performing just down the street from Port Authority, to the legendary Sal and Cody, roaring through the roads of America, reminding us that “just like the highway / nothing goes on forever.”

This shambolic collection doesn’t shift its tone often, but instead shows you a landscape shaded in Thompson’s evening hue, taking the reader on a edgy ride where things won’t likely go as planned. But that’s always been the plan in life, whether we’ve liked it or not, hasn’t it? Indeed. I highly recommends these poems.        

1 comment:

  1. Michael N. ThompsonApril 1, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    I am humbled by the praise and thank you for the review.

    ReplyDelete

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