Chickens

Wong May

What

With each day

Returning

Dis-remembering

Coming on streets

You shall never   

      Thank God

Find again

With fewer words

You speak & write

You travel more

Your Muse frets

Dis-believing

In a market place

Man squats

Bites off throats of chickens

“Bite & spit”

Back & forth

Spits out misery

In the dust

Birdfeed grits on concrete

Spit & bite & spit

So it goes

Man making a living

Good at it

Like a desk clerk

Is discreet;

Now then the chickens

           Well out of misery

Too are nodding off

                           en masse

No flesh wounds

Little that meets the eye

A bloodbath

It ain’t


& if a heap

Of bodies, some square dozen

      Not all stamped out

Thighs thigh-high

Shall spell “massacre”

On your retina

Move on

“Nothing to see”

Move along

Disperse!

The mess of wings

In the body-warmth dark

A reconfiguration

Of many as one

A mandala

Of syringes

Some half-hearted flutter

Twitches confined to the fringe
Die

      Die down

Willing the drug to work

The man nods

Gives you a nod

Lifting one eyebrow like a chicken

                                        Drawing you

To the matter at hand

Desk job

On whose lap

What must be the most secret book

You will never ever read again

In the penumbra

All the gilt-edged pages rippled

Fell open, shimmering

Alive

The man wears a chicken’s expression

A chicken’s stupefaction

You

If you are not saved by what you see

In the market today

With just the clothes you are seen in

C’mon darkness my old friend

Where in the world

Would you also go

live

& write & live?

Wong May was born in China and has published four books of poetry in the U.S. Her most recent collection is Picasso’s Tears: Poems, 1978–2013. She recently translated In the Same Light: 200 Tang Poems for Our Century. She lives in Dublin and paints much of the time to get away from words.
Originally published:
December 6, 2022

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