A Pocket of Resistance: Chicken (a poem, sort of)

Sometimes in the strangest of places and the strangest of times, i start thinking of a moment many years before, something sticking in my mind suddenly coming to the fore on its own, and i marvel at how it surfaced in my mind unprovoked.

Two nights ago as i just sat and watched a baseball game, this thought about my grandmother wringing a chicken’s neck came unannounced into my head. Oh, my sister and i have talked about the event several times in the past, but it just popped up with the score tied, two men on base, and a 1-1 count, and i was amazed.

When Maureen read this poem at breakfast this morning, she said she remembered her dad wringing the neck of a chicken in their home in Lemon Grove, a suburban neighborhood east of downtown San Diego. i wondered how many days in jail my grandmother and father-in-law would have spent had PETA been around back then. Probably some children protection agency would have gone after them too.



i suppose it happened several times,
perhaps many,
certainly many times in the years before
the beginning of me;
but in the only time i remember
was when i was wanting to be seven,
the event was vivid to me,
can see it in my mind today
when Granny was fixin’ chicken for dinner.

i do not know where Granny got that chicken
suspect her brother-in-law
brought it in from his farm’s henhouse
where his wife gathered the eggs each morning around sunrise
for fixin’ breakfast of
eggs and bacon and grits and biscuits and buttermilk
from the early morning henhouse gathering,
the larder where they kept the cured bacon from their hogs,
the goods under the white linen cloths on the screened-in porch table,
and the churn;
and him a carrying that ill-fated chicken
in the former rumble seat of his Model A
which he used to haul his produce to the farmer’s market
where his carried his fox hounds to the hunts in the woods around the county,
where his cadre of “hunters”
would loose the hounds, calling them with their horns,
literally horns of their former cows,
sipped whiskey by the fire while they listened to their hounds on the trail;

the one time i saw this oft-repeated event of yore
Granny weighed in just shy of ninety pounds
it was a feisty, no-nonsense, loving with all of her heart, kind of ninety pounds;
she took that chicken, tucked firmly under her arm
where it could not get loose and run away,
down the back porch steps into the yard;
it was a task for her,
fixin’ dinner,
that’s all;

we kids out there playing barefoot in shorts
gathered round with curiosity,
Granny grabbed that chicken by the neck
snapped its head off
like Lash Larue snapping his whip for the good of western folks,
the fly fisherman whipping his rod to soar the fly into the shallows,
the Ninja slashing his enemy’s throat with his fine-honed blade,
but then,
we children watched in amazement
as the decapitated chicken ran around the yard,
flipping and flopping,
a body’s unfeeling response to a violent death;
being children we laughed in amazement;

i helped pluck the dead bird,
and may, though thankfully i don’t remember,
have dug in and tossed out the gizzard and guts,
that night for dinner,
we had some of the best fried chicken, i’ve ever eaten:

sometimes i feel like i’m much like that decapitated chicken
from seventy years ago,
running around flipping and flopping,
a response with no thought,
yeah, no head, no brains;
i know a lot of people who act like that.


2 thoughts on “A Pocket of Resistance: Chicken (a poem, sort of)

  1. I also remember those executions but in my case it was an axe over a chopping block. Removing the feathers, as I remember, was not a desirable task.

    1. Bill,

      i suspect you won’t get this as my email to this site is still hosed up. So i will back it up with an email or post on your Facebook page (if you have one) or Nancy’s.

      Thanks for the comment. It was a different world certainly.

      We had a wonderful Saturday with Renee and Kinsley. They are terrific and i often wish they were closer so we could meet more often. Renee is still hoping you two can get out here to meet Kinsley, and i can guarantee you will be impressed. They are both amazing, and Renee’s juggling of work, school, and Kinsley is amazing. Nancy should be very proud of her granddaughter and great granddaughter. If you do come out, you know you have a place to stay down south.

      i hope all is well.

      Take care,


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