Mr. Paquette and His Chickens, A Poem by Chris Russell

I was walking by the Paquette’s front lawn, when a chicken spontaneously combusted. The sound it made was horrible. I looked at the other chickens and waited. After about a minute I knocked on their door. Mr. Paquette, answered, eyeing me with suspicion. “I was walking by George, and one of your chickens exploded,” I said. “Their spiritual chickens,” he said. “That’s what they are supposed to do.” “So, they meditate on being every atom in the universe until their bodies ignite?” I said. “Sort of,” he said. I saw a can of lighter fluid on the porch. “I know what you are thinking,” he said. “You doused your chicken in lighter fluid and then somehow made it ignite from a distance. Not cool, George,” I said. “Can’t a guy grill?” He said. “You don’t even have a grill, George,” I said. He was wrestling with something. “Since Helen died, I haven’t exactly been myself,” he said. “I know,” I said. “I saw this show on Discovery on Voodoo where they sacrifice chickens,” he said. “Well, then I think what you are doing is perfectly acceptable,” I said. “I just thought burning them up would be more humane than beheading them,” he said. “It’s not something you usually see on a Saturday morning,” I said. A chicken started circling me. “What is it doing, George?” I said. “Quick, come inside. You’ve been marked,” he said. “You didn’t tell me they were cursed chickens,” I said. “For your own protection, Tucker,” he said. He locked the door in four places. He tossed me the shotgun. I dropped it and it went off, almost hitting George. “I hate guns,” I said. “He’s angry,” he said. “Who’s angry,” I said. “God,” he said. “What did you do?” I said. “We haven’t taken the boat out in a while,” he said. “George,” I said. The chickens had run up on to the porch and were kicking at the windows. There were feathers everywhere. It looked like it was snowing outside. “Helen used to love the chickens,” he said. “They blame you for her passing,” I said. “They won’t listen to reason,” he said. “They can’t. They’re chickens,” I said. “They know how to exact revenge. That’s not the mark of something that can’t think rationally,” he said. “They are just protecting their own. Most things in nature know how to do that,” I said. “Are you one of them!” he said. He squirted some lighter fluid on me then held a blue tip match to the brick wall. “George, I’m your friend. We went to high school together,” I said. “That’s what the red one said,” he said.

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