The Dangerous Life
of Free Range Chickens

Of sixteen since last spring:
Four chickens remain.
Six killed for fun by two Great Pyrenees,
A mother and pup
Who ran across the prairie in April rain,
Left birds limp necked,
Scattered in dripping weeds.
Then gone the oldest in the flock:
DJ Cluck dragged off northwest.
Next, the Leghorn, white,
Easy target from above.
Not a feather left. I theorize
About light colored hens,
Imagine startling talons, sudden height.
But then went Speck.
Her camouflage no help.
Still, I should have known.
Predators have a taste for the sweet.
Next, in one morning, we are missing three.
Goodbye, Elsa. Goodbye, Fawkes and friend.
There will be no more green eggs
Once the cartons are empty.
I blame the watching hawk,
Dorell suspects the local owls,
Their early morning duet.
He suggests we take a walk
To the base of their favorite tree
To look for bones. Suddenly I think
Of owl pellets I used to collect,
Full of mouse skulls, still whole.


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