What the Dead Tell Us About a Chicken with Its Head Cut Off

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After the glint of the knife and the head pressed
into the heartwood of the oak
and its one hundred and fifty three rings,
there is a certain freedom to it. The blow itself is nothing—
anticipation’s the real trouble, but once it is struck,
the legs kick loose, like springs snapping,
until every reserve is expended. The head, for the short time it survives,
is contemplative and relaxed. The mouth opens and closes,
quickly at first, then more slowly, a futile attempt to convey
everything it has just learned. But it’s the wings you need to watch out for:
they’re out for revenge. Like the claws, they will draw blood
amid their desperate scramble for heaven.
WHAT THE DEAD TELL US ABOUT A CHICKEN WITH ITS HEAD CUT OFF by Brett Ortler

Photo used under CC.
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About Author

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Brett Ortler is a writer, an editor, a poet, and an all-around nature and science nerd. His work appears widely, including in Rattle, Ascent, Nimrod, as well as online at HuffPost, Salon, Fatherly, among other venues. He was the longtime editor of Knockout Literary Magazine and, more recently, Left Hooks.

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