Chickens eat anything;
Ten bags of winter kitchen scraps;
Peck, peck, peck,
In two days they are gone.
Meant for the compost but I didn’t mind;
Quano also provides wonderful nutrients.
They love grubs;
When I dig a ditch
Gather round like inspectors,
Shouldering, getting in the way of the shovel;
A white grub throws them into a frenzy
Till the lucky one runs off with it in her beak.
All day they wander about pecking, pecking,
Investigating the vast world of possible eating;
They peck at my pants and boots,
To them a tall column of reluctant birdseed;
They even peck at the dog who snaps his teeth
To show them who’s boss.
Cement mixer stomachs filled with sulphuric acid.
Worms, bugs, grass seed, small mice,
Safeway birthday cake, mouldy bread, rotten potatoes,
Anything small enough or reducable by fierce pecking.
They walk in a weird, water wading style,
Rocking from side to side on powerful thighs,
Rhythmically nodding their heads,
Always ready, searching with bug eyes.
They have no God or Art or Ethics;
Their creative act is laying eggs.
They cluster in a corner of the hen house all night,
Softly book booking;
Then each lays an egg early morning.
When I open the door it’s
“Boook, boook, where’s the feed?”
“Boook, boook, poor chickens are starving!
They pour out, a river of combs and feathers,
Scrambling over one another,
Pecking mercilessly to get first places at the tray.
How strong their desire to live!
How they long to fill the world with bustling, eating and perfect brown eggs!