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Home / Articles / Columns / Blue Corn /  Bye, Bye, Blackbird
Blue-Corn.-11.27--Midnight_Raven_V
Did Santa Fe’s big honking black birds inspire Poe?
Midnight: Raven V, by Carole LaRoche, Carole LaRoche Gallery

Bye, Bye, Blackbird

November 26, 2013, 12:00 am

BY ROBERT BASLER

Hey Bob, my professor here at St. John’s College told us that some of the most beloved poetry in the English language has Santa Fe roots, but most people aren’t aware of it. Could this be true?

Yes. You’re speaking of the Golden Age of Santa Fe Red Chile Coyote Arroyo Kit Carson Poetry.

I am? So it was a real thing?

Indeed it was. Were you aware that Edgar Allan Poe wrote his dark, brooding 1845 classic, “The Raven” while living in Santa Fe? That was before he moved to Baltimore and reworked the poem, cutting out all the local Santa Fe color.

There used to be Santa Fe color in “The Raven?” I had no idea!

Sure. The poem was actually inspired by those huge honking black birds Poe saw in the parking lot at Sanbusco. You know, those ones that can fly off carrying your pickup truck, with you in it.

Does his Santa Fe version of the poem still exist anywhere?

Yes, I have a very rare first edition of it. Be careful of the binding. I said, BE CAREFUL! You may want to put down that butterscotch sundae while you read it:

Once upon a midnight spooky
At my house, up in Tesuque

Doing shots of absinthe, three or four

While I nodded, nearly napping

Suddenly there came a tapping

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my kitchen door

Who is that? Who’s misbehavin’?

It appeared to be a raven

Not a cake from Chocolate Maven

Rapping at my kitchen door

Only this, and nothing more

Wow, that’s awesome! Show us another verse!

Ah, distinctly I recall,
I’d eaten dinner at Pasquals -
The bird, it busted through my kitchen door!
Raven looming, motions jerky
Twice as big as Albuquerque
Landed on my crackling kiva
Squawking like an opera diva
Perched upon my bust of Pallas
From a thrift shop down on Palace
I’m gonna need a shotgun, maybe more
Quoth the raven, “Vote for Gore!”

Ah. So, as I understand it, you’re saying that in 1845 a large talking bird told Edgar Allan Poe to “Vote for Gore”?

I know. Crazy, huh? I guess this black bird was really green.

I’m just going to ignore that, Bob. Bring it on home with the last verse.

And the raven, never flitting
Still is sitting, still is sitting
Focused like a hungry carnivore
He breaks my Buddha, made in Laos -
I bought it at some dump in Taos -
Foulest fowl, you creature, this is war!
Searching for the lost Lenore
But she don’t live here anymore
Here’s a test, you flapping stranger
Who was it who played “Lone Ranger”
In thrilling TV days of yester-yore?
Quoth the raven, “Clayton Moore!”

Wait a second. So now it was also a TV trivia bird, huh? You’ve gone and stepped way over my stupidity boundary.

Jeez, it sure took long enough. I imagine I lost most of my readers at the first verse.

Tell me, do any other works still exist from this so-called Golden Age of Santa Fe Red Chile Coyote Arroyo Kit Carson Poetry?

They do. Would you believe John Donne’s celebrated “No Man is a Mesa?”

No way.

How about the Samuel Taylor Coleridge Santa Fe classic?

Are we talking about “Kubla Khan?”

Yes. It was originally published here as “Kubla Kaune’s.”

That’s enough. This is way too lame. Why stop with poetry? Why don’t you pretend that there was a Santa Fe Golden Age of Novels, and claim that books like the religious epic Ben Hur were written here?

Because that would just be absurd. However, since you bring up religion, remember that many of Christianity’s most beloved prayers have Northern New Mexico roots.

I don’t think so. Name one.

Okay. Didn’t your children ever recite, Now I Lamy down to sleep…?

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Robert Basler worked for Reuters in the US and Asia. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, and way too many rescued dogs and cats. Email the author: bluecorn@sfreporter.com

A Poe Excuse for a Column?

 

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