chickens are the dumbest beasts

so much time in my youth
shooing chickens back into pens
they’d strayed out of

they’d fly at the fence until
trying to get in
then blindly flap past
the carefully opened gate

it was such a natural act
to feed chickens by wheeling
around and around
scattering grain from your hands
like the rotating  attachment
on the garden hose

they must have done it that way
on the plains of Babylon

one day my father                        cutting alfalfa
ran over a pheasant hen
            with a tractor

we put the eggs under a setting hen
to hatch

first the hen pecked
then our baby chicks pecked
in an urge to kill the unusual

many died but
those who lived
grew stunningly beautiful
and strong

i have pictures of a pheasant
and chicken
eating out of the same dish

then one fall day the last remaining
shuddered aloft
responding to a mating call
deep in the cotton fields

the chickens didn’t notice

my grandfather
sitting in the shade of the back porch
interrupted his whittling to watch

turning back to his work:
“kain’t ever stop anything wild, boy,”
            he said
“remember that.  kain’t ever, ever stop
            anything wild.”

warm in my brooklyn apartment

feeling my sex stir aloft
in response
to a mating touch

my mind grows dizzy
with turning
like that boy
feeding chickens

i recall his words:
“kain’t ever stop anything
            wild, boy.”