Ode to a Frostbitten Chicken

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Winter in southern Maine,

have some ice with your deep snow,

temperatures drop below zero,

as I write this backyard chicken refrain.

Our girls are new to this kind of cold,

just want to eat insect larvae and weeds,

just want to poop and eat simultaneously,

anything but peck at this frozen leaf mold.

Twenty below zero is for the birds, man,

let’s stay inside the coop,

let’s sleep in our own poop,

we are totally starting an egg-laying ban.

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Those tall, plucked freaks who feed us

thaw our water on the daily,

they clean our heating pad gaily,

but we find this routine tedious:

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scratch the straw in the run for seeds,

eat desiccated meal worms (chicken crack),

perch on the roost, minds on one track—

how could this happen to such hardy breeds?

Just a couple of discolored combs, it could have been much worse.

And it nearly got above freezing today, nothing more to fear.

Maybe we can go outside tomorrow! High of 21 and clear!

So when the run door opens, we’ll gingerly step out, toe-first,

allow our free-ranging time to unfold,

and remember then with hovering claw,

as we utter a pissed-off, “Bu- bu- buCAW!”

That snow is fucking cold.

Well, at least we’re not dinner (lowered expectations met),

at least there’s the light from the lamp,

at least our coop isn’t damp,

Maybe it’s not so bad being a backyard pet.

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