The Topic At Hand: How Do You Like Your Eggs?

It was the love of the game
not the money.
I was the hardest working bird
in Chinatown, always looking
for the block. Plus the smell
of rotisserie next door
helped me labor twelve hours a day
on electrified mesh. Then my beak
began to blunt, I saw Xs in my sleep,
squares and their reflections
overlapped. I was dying to brood,
but they took my eggs while I worked.
I came home to my nest
empty of all but that oily human stench.
Too old to roast now, they sent me
to the farm. Here, country chickens
amble the yard. They’re no fun.
I draw a board in the dirt
but no one will play. They just peck
at their corn and tend their young. I miss
the bated faces pressed to the glass
while I was thinking. (The warmth
of shell between my thighs
before that damage was done.)
Then the crowds stopped coming
because no one ever won.

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5 responses to “Tic-Tac-Toe-Playing Chicken, Retired”

  1. Tie went to the chicken, and the chicken would do a dance while the game screamed “chicken wins! chicken wins!”

    The dance was spurred by the electrical charge coming from her perch. Yes, in a profound sense there were only losers.

    One day there was a sign on the machine: “Game out of order. Chicken dead.”

    Weeks later it was replaced with a plastic chicken who laid plastic eggs with plastic trinkets.

  2. Saul Epstein says:

    This is such a delightful mix of grimness and absurdity, seeming to point directly at animal combat sports, but also beyond it to all kinds of situations involving exploitation or self-deprivation.

  3. Janie Epstein says:

    Enjoyed this very much. There is a lot to think about here. Because it’s a hen it brings to mind the conflicts and compromises of a forced choice of career over family. You have raised this and other issues in a way that is both more entertaining and thought provoking than a dry exposition could be.

  4. I love the line “overlapped. I was dying to brood”. The word “overlapped,” besides being itself an overlap of a thought from one line to the next, sets you up to think of multiple (i.e. overlapping) meanings of “dying to brood.” It all just fits together so well.

  5. Eric Eicher says:

    A friend of my mother’s recently told her that, to her disappointment, her “happy, golden” retirement years were proving to be neither. It’s sad to see that not even chickens can catch a break, as this vividly imagined poem makes clear. Even for chickens, there’s always something making sure it stays lonely at the top.

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The Author

Amy Meckler

Amy Meckler received her MFA in creative writing from Hunter College, where she garnered the Academy of American Poets Award, among other honors. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. Her first collection, What All the Sleeping Is For, won the 2002 Defined Providence Press Poetry Book Award and was published that year. She works in New York City as a Sign Language interpreter. Amy also blogs at You Have Spinach In Your Teeth. She is also the Poetry Editor for Revolving Floor. See all of Amy's Revolving Floor contributions.

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