Jennifer Bartell

When you grow up with a daddy who loved
chicken necks when chicken feets give
the luxury of eating and cleaning your teeth
at the same time when all is right in life
and you reward yourself with a clutch of wings
when your mama makes smothered chicken
so good she call it Company Chicken ’cause
it’s good enough for company when yo’
daddy can grill chicken and make you
the best stewed chicken over rice
as a comfort when your brother is his
daddy’s son and can grill but not scared
to put a can of beer up a chicken’s butt
before putting it on the grill when grilled
firebomb barbeque chicken leg was the last
chicken you ate when you
become a pescatarian and stopped eating chicken
when you think of them poor chicks in them
cages in them chicken farms with them
antibiotics and broken beaks . . . when you
substitute chicken with cauliflower “wings”
and some other magic called vegan chick’n
when you go four years without eating chicken
when you don’t give a damn about Popeye’s
chicken sandwich but you still know that yard
bird is better than anything they sell at the IGA
cause your neighbors kept chickens in they coops
and your ears don’t sigh at the rooster crowing
at midnight when the smell of any meat cooking
but especially frying makes you a little weak
but you stay strong when you become pregnant
with your first child and to begin to crave chicken:

You will order the lemon pepper wings
because the baby said Vegan chicken, who?
That’s not my bloodline.

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