Like the beak of a severed chicken’s head
opening & closing in the dirt beside
the chopping block
while its former companion goes
through all the motions
of real life, I have
no words.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Oh dear. I’ve been working with anatomy too long: my first thought on reading this was — with the neck muscles severed? How on earth would it do that? And an urgency about understanding bird musculature :-)

    But (self-contradictory as this is, I’ll take it at face-value) maybe you should pick up some random poet and write some imitations, to prime the pump? Someone really unlikely. Pope, say.

    Though it seems to me that you’ve written some particularly good ones lately. I really like the lammergeier one. But I know that these feelings of having fallen mute don’t always have anything to do with whether one has.


    1. Hi dale – Actually, this wasn’t autobiographical. Sorry for the confusion. Usually when the I-voice in a poem is actually me, you’ll see that I’ve assigned it to the Memoir category as well as to Poems and Poem-like Things.

      Chickens flap their wings and move their feet for up to half a minute after being decapitated. Trust me on this.


  2. on occasion when you come to a poem, it’s an exact expression of something you’re feeling. this is my experience with this piece.

    i’m going to make it the inaugural link in my new sidebar feature “what i would say if i knew how.” it’ll be a rolling shout-out list, kind of like your smorgasblog.


    1. Thanks. I am always hoping other people will imitate Smorgasblog.


  3. I liked the truth & the structure (line lengths receding). The simplicity of a graphic metaphor.

    I wish I had said it, too — especially as it turns the “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” phrase upside down.

    And because many days I feel the same way.


  4. Maybe the “I” of this poem is the Republican Party, and its former companion(now chicken liver) is Mr. Wilson. ;)


  5. …reminds me of my sons winning entry to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News Bad Writing Contest (not that yours is bad):
    “He felt that his life was like a man with no index fingers – pointless.”


  6. Oh, I know the body moves, and I imagine the bird is still conscious for a while. CF Camus re guillotining. It’s the beak being able to open and close without the muscles of the neck being anchored that inspired my anatomical doubts :-)

    Sorry to take it as autobiographical. I know better than that.


    1. Oh, I see. Well, I could swear I’ve seen it, but it’s been many years, and I might be mistaken.


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