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The Roosters of Kalihi.

The roosters of Kalihi are conspiring against me.
Bell clapper tongues vibrate,
throats distend to hot wire a frequency
that links coop to coop,
igniting a roll call of screams.

Inspired by one I'd like to pluck in particular,
this instigator's scissoring note
is a graffiti of gripes that shreds the air.
I'd like to pluck this rooster troublemaker,
squeeze him through the mesh,
stretch him like a sling shot
down the valley over roofs and trees.
I'd like to set myself free.

Aversion to all things feathered,
clucking, pecking, defecating, screaming.
Aversion to all things fowl.

At Thanksgiving Dinner--we never said supper
in our part of the woods--the turkey
looked no more dressed than it did
bald and blue, softening for days in the fridge,
no more dressed than when Mother bathed the bird
in the sink, scrubbing into every crevice, joint
and pocket the fatty soap of butter.

Featherless, headless,
the cavity of itself exposed,
the skin sheath folded like so much excess drapery,
and the neck lying beside its own body-it
hardly looked dressed.

And while everyone jostled for plates of gray matter,
I sought refuge in the jewels on mine-the
sparkling rubies of cranberries,
the citrine yellow of yams.

It hardly looked dressed,
let alone for a party,
the one day devoted to its systematic preparation
and systematic deconstruction,
an entire holiday devoted to a bird
capable of eating itself to death,
that doesn't know when to stop--
like us,
we don't know when to stop.

The valley settles in its dark leaves,
and in the rising and falling of breathing,
other sounds emerge--
the rose, fatigued by a week of sunlight,
drops a petal.

My mind widens to the stillness.
In stillness my heart is generous.

When the rooster does his thing
and it's 4:30 AM, it's okay, it's his nature.
To wake us up.
To wake the people
who keep him caged below their bedroom window,
who might just possibly love him as others do a dog,
a turtle, a hamster, a pot-bellied pig.
All right already, I mutter.
The screaming once started kicks off
my theory of sound.
The screaming once started, can't stop,
like the turkey that can't stop eating,
like you and me.
We can't stop thinking.
We can't stop talking.
We can't stop fighting.

All right already. I'm up.
You did your thing. I'm up.
All day long this dialogue.
The scream. The mutter. I'm up.
The scream. The mutter. Shut up.
I'm hot, thirsty, restless,
searching for a scrap of peace.
All right already.
And then I cause more suffering.
I attach the sound to meaning.
Pretty soon it's screaming,
"Get me outta here!"

All day long,
"Get me outta here!"

Hot, thirsty, restless.
"Get me outta here!"

Until it happens--
We're both screaming,
"Get us outta here!"

He's stuck in a shit hole of a coop.
He gets no respect,
disparaged over and over again--
"You chicken shit."
Day in, day out,
nothing to look forward to
but baldness, sickness, and death.

The tender cartilage of his scrawny
feet lacerated by the wire
on which he paces,
day in, day out, cooped up,
no relief in sight,
no prospect of getting one foot
down and then the other
upon cool damp green earth.
Every day repeating itself in shit and misery--
did I mention the flies--
the fundamental anxiety
of how, when, where, why.
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Article Details
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Author:Song, Cathy
Publication:Bamboo Ridge, Journal of Hawai'i Literature and Arts
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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