Francis Raven


A Funeral for the Many-Sided Man

To his mother he seemed to have a death wish. “It wasn't the fame he loved,” she said. “In fact, he was afraid that if he was filmed on TV his father would see him, so he'd run away from the cameras. One day, after I'd gone and dragged him from the clashes every day for a week, I told him: ‘Okay, you want to throw stones? Fine. But at least hide behind something! Why do you have to be at the very front, even farther up than the older kids?' And he said 'I'm not afraid.’”1

To his half-sister he was the baby brother who got caught in the upheaval that her family underwent so many years ago. They became very close over the years, and upon his death, “Mama and them didn't want to tell me about Robert bein' poisoned. They knew it'd hurt me so. But by them not tellin' me and lettin' him be buried by the county, why, you know that hurt me even more.2

To his father he sent after this manner: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and provision for his father by the way.3

To his grandmother he was the first Crawford since the beginning of the 19th century to be divorced.  Mentally, he conjugates his new personal verb: to be divorced.4

To his friends he was fidelity itself; and to those who were in any way dependent upon him or who appealed to his sympathies he gave the most unfailing loyalty.5

To his neighbors he was friendly and often spending time with them.6

To his lover he was a nice person, not bothered by the thoughts and reasons of others in this mortal world. To his lover he was a brother, in the literal sense of the word.7

To his sister he was a better favored person: fair-haired, clear-faced, witty-looking, with a delicate finish of feature and an expression at once urbane and not at all serious, a warm blue eye, an eyebrow finely drawn and excessively arched--an eyebrow which, if ladies wrote sonnets to those of their lovers, might have been made the subject of such a piece of verse--and a light moustache that flourished upwards as if blown that way by the breath of a constant smile. There was something in his physiognomy at once benevolent and picturesque. But, as I have hinted, it was not at all serious. The young man's face was, in this respect, singular; it was not at all serious, and yet it inspired the liveliest confidence.8



1 Referring to Faris Odeh, the 14 year-old who was shot in the neck by Israeli troops became a martyr for the Palestinian cause (Washington Post Foreign Service, Monday, December 11, 2000).

2 Referring to the Blues legend, Robert Johnson.

3 Genesis 45:23.

4 Description of the romance novel Endless Love by Carmen Green.

5 Description of Thoreau by George Willis Cooke from 1896.

6 Description of serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr.

7 From the adult fiction work, “Ai Shiteru Itsukumo, Oniisan” by Hanyou Kitsune.

8 Henry James, The Europeans.



Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple University. His first book of poems, Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox, 2005), and novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005), were recently published. Other poems have been published in Mudlark, Conundrum, Chain, Big Bridge, Bird Dog, Caffeine Destiny, and Spindrift among others. Critical work can be found in Jacket, Logos, Clamor, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Electronic Book Review, The Emergency Almanac, The Morning News, The Brooklyn Rail, Media and Culture, In These Times, The Fulcrum Annual, Rain Taxi, and Flak.