The memory most trenchant from that time,
played and replayed in solemn pantomime
of death, or life, I can’t determine which,
is how the headless chickens with a twitch
would stubbornly stand up and rush around
in widening circles, but without a sound.
Three dull-eyed heads lay silent on the ground;
those open beaks had clucked their last dumb cluck.
Three kids stood still, wide-eyed and horror-struck,
until, to break the spell, we ran behind
the senseless bodies, bold but saturnine,
flapping our elbows, falling in a heap.
That night they fluttered headless through our sleep.
When Preacher Man forked up the wings and thighs,
we shrilled, “They sure could run,” meant to disguise
our fears of Saving Blood and Mercy Seat
and Hell. Mom glared, “Just hush your mouths and eat.”
Janice D. Soderling has poetry, fiction and translations in many international literary journals, print and online. She recently was one of four featured readers for Carmine St. Metrics at Otto’s Shrunken Head, New York City, together with Alicia E. Stallings , R. S. Gwynn, and Claudia Gary. Current work at Measure and the Literary Bohemian, forthcoming at Modern Poetry in Translation and Flash: The International Short Story Magazine.