THURSDAY: Buffalo Wings


Copyright is held by the author.

Late Tuesday afternoon,
The coop man always comes.
When the slanting sun is pouring its fading yellow
Through the chicken wire.
The hens now stuffed, somnolent,
Rocking cluck-cluck, quiet.
They blink, never seeing
His meaty hand.
The hairy forearm sliding snake-smooth down the wire,
Until his black nails close,
Crushing a feathered neck
Claws kicking, a rattling choke
The hen jerked upwards,
Flaps stubby wings madly
He grins
Opening the razor-sharp cutting shears
Glints in his other hand
Pull that bird higher! 
Blowing sweet winey breath on the chattering beak
He slips the jagged edge
Under the tender joint
A mild ‘crunch’ as the scissors squeeze close
The severed wing drops
Still flapping slowly, sadly
Scattering gouts of red and dropping green lice
All gobbled eagerly
By the greedy beaks below
The amputated bird, unbalanced
Flaps remaining wing toward heaven
Until the scissors crunch
Leaving gristle and hollow bone dripping
Now throwing down the armless carcass
The coop man picks up the twitching wings
And drops them in his bucket
Heading toward Buffalo
Where spicy red sauce
The rust of that city’s abandoned grain elevators and skeletons
Of industry
Will drench and cook, deliver to you fresh
While the feathered mass below
Close on the hapless cripple
An eye
Puncturing  a gut leaking purple
They cover her
Poking, flapping, gobbling, swallowing
Never knowing
That they
Are next.


Image of Martin Swanson in a suit and tie.

Martin Swanson is 78, retired, writes full time and lives in southern Delaware. He graduated from the University of Virginia, with a M.A. English and American literature. His poetry and prose attempt to focus antic imagination on everyday life, principally in the U.S. His work has been published in Literary Veganism, Now Magazine, The Provincetown Poets and St. Mark’s Poetry Project, New York. He is currently working on a book of short stories, Your Promise Means Everything.