Poetry by Martin Swanson

“Buffalo Wings”
       By Martin Swanson

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.

- Martin Swanson is a student of fiction, American history and international relations who earned an MA in English at the University of Virginia. As a father and grandfather, he wishes to promote veganism (and also atone for his previously slaughter of a rabbit, through a mistaken view of masculinity.)

Copyright©2020 by Martin Swanson. All Rights Reserved.