The Unbearable Torture of the Raven at the Arizona Senora Desert Museum

The Unbearable Torture of the Raven at the Arizona Senora Desert Museum

K.T. Slattery

Having seen every national park between Memphis
and Tuscon,
I had, myself, grown weary.
My ten-year-old brain could process no more—
No more canyons,
No more movie sets,
No more forced smiles for pictures.
A rock for a perch, I sat,
Hoping the camera bearers
would not find me.

‘Nevermore’ croaked an old voice.
Then another.
And another.
They filed past the raven in front of me—
Long white socks pulled up to knees
Anchored by shiny white sneakers
Golf visors perched on variations of grey and white.
Then the blue rinse brigade had gone.
I counted 27 ‘Nevermores’
And looked at the raven in sympathy.

Then he opened his beak
Between you and me,
I hope Edgar Allan Poe is on
a slow turning spit in hell
“Is this what it is like every day?” I asked him.
Day in. Day out. Every clever clogs that made it
through eighth grade
Says the same damn thing.

Furthermore, I have never, in all my days
Met a raven that uttered such nonsense.
Why did it have to be a raven?
A wolf could howl this dirge more sorrowfully than I—
A woodpecker is more likely to come a tap tap tapping—
But in his opium reverie he saw a black bird and
claimed it was a raven-
That actually gave a rat’s ass about Lenore.

I could not fault his logic.
So I pursed my lips in sympathy.
The two of us sat in silence—
Until I saw a tall man approach
Every nuance of him screamed Clark Griswold
from National Lampoon’s Vacation.
He looked thoughtfully at the raven
Then reverently opened his mouth and uttered
Those three syllables

He turned and seeing me, smiled broadly
“There you are! How about a picture with the raven?
Stand next to him there and on three…
Nevermore!”

K.T. Slattery

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