Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chicken Feathers and Park Benches

At age six, my cousin became
an animal rights advocate
when she saw mother wring
our chicken's neck,
sending it on its John The Baptist run
across the back yard,
feathers flying
like a summer snowstorm.

She stopped eating chicken.
Opened their pen to let them escape.
Hid them under the house.
Wrote Santa to rescue them
in his sleigh, come Christmas.

Later, she found her own roost on the streets
as manic depression spread its wings,
darkened her sky.
She was raped twice on park benches,
traded her body in cold weather
for a few nights in some strange man's
warm bed.

She lived on a cot in a friend's walk-in closet for a year.

She refused to go home,
refused to stay with a mother
who'd abused her while my uncle,
the minister, sat,
fingers pyramided in silent prayer
to a god who was too busy to listen
to one child's scream.

My cousin would give you her last dollar,
her last cup of coffee,
probably her soul if you needed it.

The streets can kill you or break you,
but angels tread that pavement, too,
wings hid beneath unwashed clothes,
chicken feathers spinning in circles
around invisible, but well-deserved halos.


Pris Campbell
2006

15 comments:

Pat Paulk said...

Tragic, but beautifully written!

RachelChisholm2006 said...

Sensitive and thought-provoking.
A touching piece Pris.
Maybe you're feeling better today? Hope so.

Pris said...

Thank you both..and Rachel, yes, still very fatigued, but much better than on Wednesday. Thanks for asking.

BookwormALB said...

Such a good poem, very sad. The poor chicken doing his "John the Bapist run" without his head. Very visual. I could see it all. I'm so glad you're feeling better, too.

Pris said...

Thanks for you comments...and the first time I saw a headless chicken running around as a child it was a bit of a shock, too.

polona said...

wonderful poem, sad but beautiful... still can't bear the sigt of headless chickens running accross the yard...
glad you're feeling better and hope your condition improves even further.

Pris said...

Thanks, Polona
I guess it's hard to see any animal killed. The only consolation is that the chicken is dead at that point and the 'running' is a muscle reflexive action, since the head is gone. As bad as it is, the chickens had a good life, running around and eating natural grains in those days and in a few places now. Most chickens now are packed into dirty windowless coops, shot up with hormones and antibiotics and are held prisoner until they die for the supermarkets. I really really hate that.

pepektheassassin said...

I forget to mention: Bookworm is my granddaughter. I forgot to change the thing back to Pepek. :)

Pris said...

Ahhh, pepe...now I know who the new poster was :-)

Nea said...

beautifully written, but how sad.....

Pris said...

Hi Nea
Thanks...and yes, sad, but with a good ending, thank goodness.

Ellen M Johns said...

Wonderful writing Pris. So much said in this piece.I love your "non-flowery" approach to writing.

Pris said...

Thanks, Ellen.

Michael Parker said...

Another fine poem, Pris! Exceptional, in fact.

Pris said...

thanks, Michael
I'll check with you later to see how things went with you.