The high priests of poetry glitter like silver toothpicks. Don’t think about where they’ve been: the closets, the lavatories, the confessionals. Don’t mistake their laughter for genuine mirth. I remember our free-range chickens, that so-called flock of birds too fat to fly, how the roosters crowed at awkward hours and how every morning the hens would announce their new-laid miracles to the world in keening monotones, the first one sparking the others like a parking lot after a minor earthquake — all the car alarms going off at once. I remember how brutally they enforced the pecking order. Some winter mornings we’d find half a hen in the hay; bug season couldn’t come quickly enough. To be fair, though, their cruel stupidity was inbred, and may have been triggered by paranoia: almost every week two more members of the flock went missing from the shit-caked roosts, until spring when a new crop of chicks appeared in the rat-proof pen in the middle of the coop. Broody hens and second-rank roosters heard that EEP EEP EEP EEP and got excited. They’d wander up to the pen, tilt their heads as if taking confession, and go AWWWWP.
I live in an Appalachian hollow in the Juniata watershed of central Pennsylvania, and spend a great deal of time walking in the woods. Here’s a bio. All of my writing here is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For attribution in printed material, my name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact me for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).