Saturday, January 20, 2007

I wrote this poem after purposely helping kill an animal for the first time.

I Have a Friend Whose Dad Has Too Many Roosters

Standing outside the coop in Rigby Idaho,
Mr. Gardner tells us how it’s done.
We wait outside stamping our feet
while he sharpens the blade, and I
watch the chickens. There must be over
thirty of them, scratching Mayan-like
calendars in the windswept, sandy earth,
laying Leonardo da Vincis and Dahmers
of their own (except by now they’re over easy),
discussing the ethics of poultry
politics and teaching the Cave of Plato,
while clucking free verse poetry.

We invade the hutch and I grab
one by his silky foot-long tail feathers.
The plumes are black, but glint
red and green in the squinting sunlight.
My hands keep trembling wings
against composed warm sides as
I stretch his neck over a dirty log.
he clucks a few questions trying to look up from the dirt,
but I don’t speak chicken and so don’t answer him.

With the falling blade
the philosophy stops. I wonder
if, the explanation that, “adjective clauses
always follow the nouns they modify,”
has been interrupted and postponed: indefinitely?
Chicken algebra and geography neurons
fire for the last time, wastefully,
to jerk this leg while flapping that wing frantically.
After leaping in the air the body falls,
stiffens and seizes as blood sprays
his last artwork in the sand.

The fried chicken that night is tough and dry.
My friend’s dad says it’s because they’re free-range.

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