Ali Shapiro

Is this why I’m slaughtering these chickens—so that I

can write a poem about slaughtering chickens, and you

can write a poem about watching me

slaughter chickens? And then we can argue

about which one of us has the right

to write a poem about slaughtering chickens, and I will think

it’s me, because it was me clenching my fist

around their feathered necks and pulling

until I felt the subtle pop, then sawing with my dull blade

until the blood came in spurts, then holding

their scaled yellow feet until they stopped

thrashing, finally? And you will think it’s you

because you love me and you watched

me do these things? And we will go on like this, racing to claim

the good details, hoping that at least we won’t both call

the severed esophagus a pearly tube, the gallbladder black

as a bullet, tearing away at the meat of each day

like wolves, snarling, until soon when I see something

beautiful, or terrible, or funny, or strange, I will try

to shield it from you—can we go on like this, forgetting

how, when I used to see something beautiful

or terrible or funny or strange or frightening

or heartbreaking or (in the case of the pulse still flickering

in the necks of these chickens I’m slaughtering) disgusting

and numinous and ridiculous all at once, it was you

I would call first, to bring you closer? Forgetting even

the reason for these chickens, dragged squawking

from the truck bed, forgetting we’re making lunch?

Ali Shapiro lives on a boat in Seattle, WA, where she freelances in various writing-related capacities. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southeast Review, and Linebreak, among others. She's won various prizes for her writing and other exploits, including a Bertlesmann World of Expression scholarship, a Dorothy Sargeant Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Find her online at .

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