Chickens would whistle
if they had lips,
according to my friend Jean,
but when the coon broke in-to Margo's coop
and killed three hens, ate two then fell asleep
in the laying box, what chickens were left
didnít try to whistle much less get away.
They milled around as the coon did what he
could in the way of killing and eating.
The family across the street kept chickens.
When I was a kid, I saw a Sunday dinner hen
do the headless two-step, her skinny legs flashing
through the blood and feathers. Itís the same
with folks, your brain stays alive for thirty seconds
after the bodyís gone. Some saintís head was chanting,
There is one God, as it bumped down four hundred steps and
Mary, Queen of Scots' was shouting when they held her head up
to the crowd. Who taught you to whistle? Jean asked.
I told her, the big kids wanted whistlers, I whistled.
I started fires, too and egged Miss Morganís Ford, but I never
killed a chicken myself, or went to a chicken killing
after the first. Instead, I scratch along, eating kale, sometimes
wondering a little what sounds would replace my animal voice,
given that blow, the unexpected seconds of grace.
Dream of Napalm