See, slick and glistening,
sculpted to wood,
a rustling topiary of birds forming
an aviary of cruelty,
a gruesome monument
to the commanders
Finches and budgies.
Egret and owl.
Parrot and eagle.
Osprey and macaw.
Flash of crimson cardinal wing.
Who would sing?
Who could sing?
A common chicken is pulling
on one leg, shaking,
tightening the tiny noose pegging
her to the very end,
the loop a tourniquet quietly cutting
into the leg, a red stain seeping
into white feathers.
In the dark,
the snowy owl
turns his head away.
The now one-footed hen falls off the trellis
like pulling a zipper
and one by one the birds attempt liftoff
all still tied to each other, straining
against the grim order
What sacrifice! What love for the flock!
Noble creature, she finds herself
tugged aloft by falcon and goose,
crane and vulture, great bustard and greater rhea, kites
who take to the air trailing
the one-legged chicken dangling
like a charm.
The sun rises on an odd formation winging
neither north nor south, just flying, pulling,
together in both sacrifice and need,
bound both in resistance and in flight,
the parrots muttering and the ravens cawing and the hawks screeching and the songbirds all together calling:
And the chicken, bleeding, thinks: Yes.
This is what it means to be free.
Featured Image Credit: Artwork by Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler
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Dana Cloud is a Tempest Collective member and scholar of Marxism, popular culture, and social movements currently teaching at California State University, Fullerton.