I visit the zoo.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tiger: Greetings, hooman.

Visitor: Hello, Mr Beast.

Tiger: You want your book back, I suppose.

Visitor: Not just yet.

Tiger: Good. I've just read "Chicken" by Kim Addonizio and it's giving me an appetite. It's hard to have an appetite around here.

Visitor: Tell me about it.

Tiger: There are bars you can't bite through. Mothers and fathers try to act knowledgeable but they're just reading the sign there to their kids. The kids don't give a rat's ass about my Latin name. They want to scare me. They roar at me.

Visitor: Tedious, eh?

Tiger: But the poems keep me going. It's either that or pace.

Visitor: So tell me about the Addonizio.

Tiger: Well, it starts like the old "why did the chicken cross the road?" joke and then explains that the chicken was running from captivity, like a convict running from prison. A ripping yarn. So it segues to an escaped convict. Chicken's out of the picture. Farmers give the convict asylum and food, and suddenly the chicken is back, because the nice farmer breaks her neck and his wife feeds her to the convict. Man, what time is it?

Visitor: About noon.

Tiger: Good. Almost feeding time. Anyway, so the poem segues back to the chicken, which was hit by a truck while crossing the road. The chicken dies and the convict goes on to live, but acting like a chicken, like his body is inhabited by the soul of the chicken. You know how when you bite the head off a chicken?

Visitor: Not really.

Tiger: And the chicken runs with no head? It hits this, it hits that. Then it falls over. Kinda funny.

Visitor: Mm-hmm.

Tiger: Well this poem's not like that. It's built like a good henhouse: two stanzas of chicken on the run, two of convict on the run, two of chicken dead and cooked, two of convict with the chicken's soul. The chicken and the convict yearn for a little free-range action and they get it, but fate gets them in the end.

Visitor: What about the poetry?

Tiger: I don't know. It's a good solid story with plenty of compression, but there's not much wordery. This part's good, though. From when the convict is being fed: "They'll bring"
the chicken the farmer found
by the side of the road, dazed
from being clipped by a pickup,
whose delicate brain stem

he snapped with a twist,
whose asshole his wife stuffed
with rosemary and a lemon wedge.

Here I'm thinking "dumb chicken" and suddenly she's got a delicate brain stem and she's in trouble and oh! no! the nice farmers are brutal killers and they violate the delicate chicken's corpse. And I like "with a twist" and "lemon wedge" being together like that. And "rosemary" being near the wife, because that should be her name, and maybe she's a stuffed asshole, too.

But it's a straightforward story, and it's all about fate, you pesky paper-writing Google-searching "theme"-hunting plagiarist kids. Fate: "God knows how she got out. / God sees everything, God has his eye / on the chicken" and "Everything has its fate, / But only God knows what that is."

Ten thousand biting gnats: Thanks!


Gnats: * fall like rain *


At 9:10 AM, Blogger Ivy said...

Mm, I like this one. Supercool.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger 32poems said...

I enjoyed your posts and learned about your blog from Poetry Hut. I'd love to be the first "Maryland" blog added to your links.



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