More Poets, Fewer Lawyers…Poetry by Amy Brunvand

Mule Deer Protection Act

Of course, the Utah legislature had to blame
Someone for steeply declining  numbers
Of mule deer and other hunted game
Animals — it couldn’t be the hunters
Themselves, or the fossil fuel industry
Building drill pads on the winter range,
Or suburban sprawl in river valleys
Where deer went to drink. Political campaigns
Depend on those people.  Wolves, exiled
From the state, had left a vacancy
For a large predator, coyotes filled it
And found themselves hunted for bounty:
Fifty dollars paid for each dead skin.
Run fast, be safe, my wily little ones.


How to Tell a Raven from a Crow

They are all black but not the same blackness.
In sunlight Crow shines iridescent green;
The subtext of Raven is oilslick blue.raven@hite

Ravens gather in unkindness
Though they are of the same kind.
Raven solitaire runs with the wolves
Chasing carrion, the crack of gunshots,
Drifting along the edge of the highway
Hoping for something dead.
When you hear a voice in the woods
You have never heard before, it is Raven
Singing barking dog, running water,
Engines and explosions, nevermore,
Gronk-gronk. Ravens’ wings slice the air
With far more flourish than necessary
Surfing updrafts, turning somersaults,
Extending their long thin feather fingers
In that familiar gesture of disdain.

On the other hand, there is no such thing
As just one Crow, perched lowbrow
In the stark lattice of winter branches.
Raucously playing Exquisite Corpse,
Charades, Murder in the Dark, laughing stupidly
At mimes, scarecrows and clowns.
Crows get up too early, Sing too loudly
And off-key, though technically
Songbirds they have a tin ear;
Crows hate Owls and feud with Ravens raven-deathvalley
Over which feathers to ruffle,
They invented crowbars, hold grudges,
Mourn their dead, never forget a face.

To eat Crow means
You know that you were wrong.

To eat Raven means
You should have been paying more attention
Before you pulled that trigger.





Amy Brunvand is a librarian, writer, and part-time nature mystic from Salt Lake City, Utah.  She agrees with Edward Abbey that the environmental movement needs more poets and fewer lawyers (even though some of her best friends are lawyers).







To read the PDF version of this article, click here.

To comment, scroll to the bottom of the page.

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14 comments for “More Poets, Fewer Lawyers…Poetry by Amy Brunvand

  1. Deanne Heitkamp
    February 3, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I stumbled across your site via Audubon and found myself delighted: by the subject matter, by the writing, even by the ads. I will be back.

  2. Eileen Oldag
    February 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Wow. And…thanks. I followed the Audubon link here, expecting a rhyme to help me categorize. Instead my suspicions of raven nature are confirmed, and now the neighborhood flock of crows seems much less intimidating. Thanks for writing, Amy. I’ll be reading.

  3. Mardy Hall
    February 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Brava, Amy Brunvand! ‘Mule Deer Protection Act’ brought tears to my eyes. ‘How to Tell a Raven from a Crow’ tickled me something fierce!

    Mardy Hall

  4. Lawrence Spring
    February 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    When I read this article it reminded me of the following.

    The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) was concerned over the recent deaths of 200 crows near greater Boston. They wondered if Avian Flu was the cause.

    Bird Pathologists were called in to examine the remains of each bird. Avian Flu was soon ruled out. The cause of each death was vehicular impacts.

    Also, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird’s beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

    MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills. After a lengthy study he concluded the following: When crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow to warn of impending danger.

    All lookout crows studied could shout “Cah”, not a single one could shout “Truck.”

  5. Julia King-Smith
    April 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I, like several of the others who left comments, found your delightful site through the Audubon link. I have often wondered how to identify Crow vs. Raven and now I know. I wonder if anyone knows whether or not the Irish variety of Raven is the same as the American?? I had an amazing adventure with Ravens at the Hill of Tara several years ago…every eerie, indeed.

  6. April 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I need to meet a raven. Thank you for your well written experience.

  7. J M Parker
    April 26, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    In Seattle, just west of Green Lake, we drove under a phone wire with about 20 crows lined up on it, exclaiming loudly and looking down at the lifeless body of a very large crow on the road. We carefully drove around it and went home a block further on.

    Soon the large body of crows flew to a 50-foot cedar a few houses down and continued cawing. It sounded like various factions were forming.

    Then the flock flew to our 45-foot cedar and continued the discussion. This went on for about a day and a half.

    Two days later we awoke to quiet. Apparently they had put it to a vote and chosen a new leader.

    From then on, they have flown everywhere together without fuss, especially enjoying their congregation of about 50 crows at Green Lake every evening.

  8. Barbara
    May 24, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Very nice site and yes we need more poets than lawyers.

  9. wendy klein
    June 22, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Thankyou for all the information, it is wonderful to see lots of people are interested in these items too
    came onto the site thru’audubon, which I dearly love, and enjoyed all items on your site, namaste

    item comes up please enter a valid email, but this is my email

  10. September 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I came over from the Audubon site where i was looking for signs indicating that 2015 is the year of the raven and the coyote; and was delighted with your poem. As a lawyer and a poet, and a part time mystic, it is my professional opinion that we need plenty more people like you. Keep writing and thanks for sharing the wisdom. 😉 -SLHB

  11. Eric G Pizer SR
    October 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Amy seems to be your average bleeding heart think with it first make a lot of noise but never really accomplish much.If most people would do any homework at all it would soon b clear that hunters pay for most everything concerning wildlife, the rule made to protect them the people payed to protect them, the equipment winter feed just to name a few.carrion is any rotten meat doesn’t fly just like the poem useless

  12. Eric G Pizer SR
    October 15, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Please be fair a check where the funds come from to buy land to hire game protectors to buy equipment to buy winter food in some cases to pay crop damage to stock new species to prosecute offenders to make reasonable population estimates to take care of the millions of acres of public land stock fish and so many more very important things for animals,fish,and birds in every state in the union. I would bet my life hunters and fisherman pay for over 85%in every state.But I never hear credit given to those who deserve it MOST. IF you people really want to do something that counts buy a hunting and fishing license in your state. Sincerely Eric G Pizer SR

  13. Henry
    November 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I’m told Ravens walk while Crows hop. ( Or vice versa) Is this true?

  14. Edih Cheney
    February 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I also stumbled on this site while readng the Audubon article about crows and ravens. Enjoyed the poem.

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