“Dear Chicken” by Gabriel Gudding

by Jess

This is one of those poems that I don’t “get,” but it delights me, so I share it with you.  It’s published in the current issue of the Carolina Quarterly Review.

[Edit: I just read a great quote on Gudding’s blog that speaks quite well to this poem: “The purpose isn’t to be strange for the sake of strangeness. The point is to slow down the perception of the reader, so that the reader is not experiencing the poem automatically. Once our perceptual habits become automatic, we’ve dampened our innate capacity for wonder. So, one enstranges language not to put on a gratuitous display, but to allow again for wonder, to make, as Shklovsky says, ‘the stone stony again.'”]

Dear Chicken,

I’m sorry the farmboy punts you. Our housecat is a racist and considers you a brand of Arabian sparrow. Most butterflies are just hinged shabby paper. I don’t get your feet: you are such this dressed up lizard. What if I were to plug the tail of a cow into its rectum? Would its hooves frizzle and short-circuit? Is the pumpkin a Catholic or a Lutheran? The evangelist exploded on my mother. There was missionary-slurry all over her.

Yesterday I inserted a frozen caterpillar into my urethra. It thawed and crawled out. I am punching the bunny in the head. I am not going to put the bunny in my mouth. Won’t fit. Even a small bunny won’t fit in my mouth. You are my chicken. I will send you some nail polish, you can paint your beak with it. That way you can be a pretty chicken.

Sincerely,

Gabriel Gudding

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