Arts featured

The birds (with no disrespect to Alfred), a poem by Chad Norman

An encounter with
the “Are you feeding the animals?” police
happened today,
two men pulled up in a big black FBI looking sedan,
I mean a BIG boatlike black sedan,
the man on the passenger side had his window down,
they were beside me as I broke off the bread,
and sprinkled the cat-food over the corner
where I have been interacting with
a generous crow-family for a number of seasons;
I was out on a walk I often take
and look forward to,
a walk which is about visiting
and speaking with
not only one but five altogether,
crow families open to my curiosity
and urge to amuse them.

As I said, his window was open,
and his face staring
as I turned to acknowledge the car,
thinking it would be an exchange
like I have had in the past,
when people stop to share their love of the crows,
quick stories as their cars and trucks
sit idling for a few moments,
stories I admire and appreciate, stories about to include the question,
“Are you feeding the animals?” Yes, the small, smug man speaking to me,
asking such a question, with the tall chubby fellow, all in gray hair,
fitting somehow behind the wheel.

My answer came about
in a brief but vital silence,
as I stared back at him,
beginning to walk toward the car
and that open window,
“No. I am not feeding the animals.”
His arm now on the door, adding to the smugness, “Well, it looks like you’re feeding them to me.”
The afternoon in July grew hotter
as we continued the interrogation, “Why? What business is it of yours?”
I suspected it wasn’t the answer he expected,
and he did look as if he
had a certain answer in mind,
a mind I began to understand,
a mind filled with little other than
a need to interfere in my holy interaction,
yes, what I would call a visit
to the church nature leaves open for me.

The small man continued to grow his smugness
by blurting out some information,
“Well, you know the town doesn’t want people feeding the deer!” Remember I was walking toward them,
and my steps continued, with three members of the crow family listening, and I knew they were,
all three I have known for years, the three who drop me gifts,
I knew the small man was getting nervous,
so I spoke again, ” Do I look like someone
who would feed the deer bread and cat-food?”,
and once again his face showed me
he didn’t like my response,
so I spoke again, being quite close to him now
and that open window,
“And what business is it of yours? I have been allowed into the lives of this family,
and four others. Do you know I am writing about them all?” I stopped walking,
and then the silence started, and feeling the need to get in one last revelation to secure my acknowledgement
of his ignorance, he said, again, “You better not be feeding the animals.”

To end this encounter, the big black FBI looking sedan
quickly pulled a u-turn, out into the intersection, as my new runners stepped onto the curb
I watched as the small extremely smug-filled man, put his arm out the open window
and flipped me the… well, you know, and I standing beneath the crows and the wind in the leaves yelled as loud as I could, well…you know, and kindly shared a certain finger too.


Photo Simon de Vet

The birds (with no disrespect to Alfred) is is the fourth of nine poems we will publish during the remainder of the year, selected as a result of the call for poems we issued in May. 

Chad Norman’s poems have appeared for the past 35 years in literary publications across Canada, as well as a number of other countries around the world.

He hosts and organizes RiverWords: Poetry & Music Festival each year in Truro, NS., held at Riverfront Park, the 2nd Saturday of each July.

In October 2016 he was invited by the Nordic Assn. for Canadian Studies to give talks on Canadian Poetry and read from his books at Borupgaard Gym in Copenhagen, and Risskov Gym in Aarhus, as well as other readings in both cities and Malmo, Sweden. Because of that tour Norman has started the manuscript, Counting Coins In Denmark And Sweden.

His most recent books are Selected & New Poems, from Mosaic Press, and Waking Up On The Wrong Side of The Sky, from Grant Block Press, and a new book, Squall: Poems In The Voice Of Mary Shelley, is due out Spring 2020, from Guernica Editions. Recently, he completed the manuscript, The Black Rum Poems, and presently works on a new manuscript, A Small Matter of Inclusion.

In October of 2017 he read at various Eastern Canada venues in Kingston, Ottawa, and Montreal. And in the Fall of 2018 Norman will undertake a speaking/reading tour of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, as a celebration of literacy and Canadian Poetry.

His love of walks is endless.


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