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Poetic Hill: Potomac Crows

Michelle LaFrance writes poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction but publishes primarily in academic venues. She lives in Southwest DC but on weekends can be found in Lost River, West Virginia. In her day job as a professor of writing and rhetoric at George Mason University, she teaches writers to love every aspect of the writing process. LaFrance is often inspired by DC’s lively and rich neighborhood cultures and histories. Her latest poetry collection (in progress) sits with competing ideas of belonging and images of the weekender. Her latest monograph, “21 Ways to Read a Cemetery,” walks readers through the new materialist methodologies animating the field of rhetorical studies. She offers classes for writers and writing retreats through www.writinglostriver.org.

Potomac Crows

Research shows, back in 1886, as many as 150,000 crows roosted along the shore of the Potomac River on the northwest side of Washington, DC. Today there are still three large roosts occupied by thousands of crows, just a few miles from the original location.

From “Riverside Echoes: A Second Collection of Poetry and Stories”

Riverside Writers (Fredericksburg, Virginia)


It is always best when the poem is

a loose agreement,

even as

the awkward stanza of these birds,

is a run-on sentence,

unraveling dark dots,

a parade of raggedness and wing.

Crow and crow and crow,

bird and bird and bird,

unfolding punctuation.

So far up they are more

exhale than whisper,

seven here, twenty here,

three, a gap,

then one bird urgent and alone ‒

insistent and

black as a


Sandra Beasley is the curator of “Poetic Hill,” a resident of Southwest and the author of four poetry collections. If you live in DC and you’re interested in being featured, reach her at sandrabeasley@earthlink.net for questions and submissions (one to five poems).  

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