El Padre

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In this "mini-novel in verse," Larry D. Thomas explores the doubts, internal conflicts, and deep religious yearnings of El Padre, the young Catholic priest of a small parish located in La Frontera, the borderlands region of far West Texas near the Rio Grande River separating Texas from Mexico. Although ostensibly examining the anxieties and epiphanies of the young priest, the collection simultaneously probes the "spiritual" bounty of the flora of the Great Chihuahuan Desert and the ancient cultural heritage of Mexico. 
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About the author

Larry D. Thomas, who grew up in Midland, Texas, on the northeastern fringe of the Great Chihuahuan Desert, moved back to the desert in 2011 after residing for forty-four years in Houston, Texas. Among his poetry collections inspired by his reverence for the Great Chihuahuan Desert are Amazing Grace (Texas Review Press 2001); Where Skulls Speak Wind (Texas Review Press 2004); Stark Beauty (Timberline Press 2005); The Red, Candlelit Darkness (El Grito del Lobo Press 2011, republished online in 2013 by Right Hand Pointing); Far: West Texas (Right Hand Pointing 2011); The Goatherd (Mouthfeel Press 2014); Art Museums (Blue Horse Press 2014); Los Días de Los Muertos (Right Hand Pointing 2015); Jake & Violet (Right Hand Pointing 2016) and The Innkeeper (forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press in 2016). Thomas, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, was privileged to serve as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. His As If Light Actually Matters: New & Selected Poems was published in 2015 by Texas Review Press (Member, Texas A&M University Press Consortium). He resides in Alpine, Texas, with his wife, Lisa, and two Long-haired Chihuahuas, Piñon and Pecos. 

Lisa P. Thomas, DDS, has enjoyed photography for several years. Her credits include Amazing Grace (Texas Review Press, 2001), Where Skulls Speak Wind (Texas Review Press, 2004), Stark Beauty (Timberline Press, 2005), The Fraternity of Oblivion (Timberline Press, 2008), Far (West Texas) (e-chapbook/Right Hand Pointing, 2011), Art Museums (Blue Horse Press, 2014), and The Innkeeper (forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press, El Paso, Texas).

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Published on
May 6, 2016
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In A Murder of Crows, Larry D. Thomas has artfully assembled decades of his writing about birds into a single volume of poetry. Thomas divides the collection into four sections. The first, "With Concentrated Grit," begins with a sparrow that "hops / easily its height, and quietly // explodes into flight... / flaunting for a moment its earth // tone browns and grays." It ranges through a whole aviary, from sparrows and pigeons ("the urban version / of the buzzard") to yellow-rumped warblers, house finches, and an old blue jay "arrogant / as a late Picasso, / raging beneath a blanket / at an auction." Section two, "Eyeing the Gulf," begins with "the mad / weightless dash" of a sanderling chick's life and continues through herons that could be "outgrowths / of the river itself" through laughing gulls "in rowdy reverence" through a whole range of seabirds. The third section, "Deft at Tearing Out Hearts," begins with the eagle for whom "everything that moves / is potential prey" and follows a "trajectory of violence" that includes the hawk "preying for rain" in Presidio whose "only water / was the blood of his prey" and the falcon "praying / his scarlet prayer / of devourment." The crow, the heart and soul of the collection, is the subject of the final section, which shares its title, "A Murder of Crows," with the whole. "History reeks," Thomas writes, with "the ineradicable / blackness" of the crow's ink. His crow poems speak to the crow "as metaphor, / for thousands / of years, / you've charged // our psyches, / forging / the dark iron / of your being // into symbols / of life, death / and the scales / of justice." Thomas offers the reader a primeval, poetic force appropriate to the terror of our times, "revealing as we breathe / the ravenous, reeking / psyche of our kind" -- a fitting tribute to the author of Crow, Ted Hughes, whose work Thomas has long admired, and to whose memory the collection is dedicated.
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