Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two Perspectives on a Failed Feast

My story:
"Aaaaaaaugh!" A piercing chicken-scream sounded from outside the window. Staci and I stared at each other in alarm. "What was that?!" I ran to the glass door by the coop, switched on the light, and peered into the darkness.

My gaze was met by two glassy black eyes, a pointed, whisker-stabbed face, and a worm-like tail. Pointed teeth protruded from the edges of grey gums. "Hey!" I yelled at the opossum. "Get away from my chickens!" I clapped my hands, but he stood frozen in place, staring at me with what looked like defiance.

As I pried open the groaning glass door, he fled into the tall grass. My chickens were running around the coop, yelling at each other and at the place where the opossum had been lurking. A long stick, which I had carefully positioned as a roost through the gaps in the wire, was hanging out of the side.

Slipping on my flip-flops, I hurried toward the heat lamp. Then I heard a rustling in the darkness and gasped, shrinking back. "Staci!"

She was already outside, grabbing a huge white pole from against a pillar. She poked at the grass with it, testing it for snaggly-toothed inhabitants as I crept toward the power outlet and plugged in the lamp.

As the chickens settled into their favorite spot by the warmth, Aunt Marge gave me a disapproving look. "You almost got us eaten," her eyes told me.
"I know--I'm sorry."
"It'd better not happen again." She closed her eyes and fell asleep, disapproval still seeping from her pores.

His story:
A large red chicken sleeps on the roost, feathers fluffed against the cold. Snaggle-Tooth smells a delicious, feathery scent and creeps from the shadowed grass. He sees the snack, so plump and luscious. He stretches out his hand to grab it--but he is foiled by a hard, scratchy barrier. Suddenly, an idea strikes him. If I pull the stick, the chicken will come with it! Excited, Snaggle-Tooth grabs the stick in his mouth and yanks. The almost-snack screams and flies into the air, waking all the other feather-morsels. As the sneaky opossum realizes his mistake, a light appears, showing one of those crazy hairless monsters behind a clear wall. He stares in shock as the monster claps its hands, clearly enjoying the show. Then the wall begins to move with a horrible noise and he flees, vowing to return for his chicken feast another day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


 This evening I thought, "My goodness, tonight seems to be a fine time to work on my thesis proposal!" So I opened the document filled with my advisor's edits and started to work. After perhaps five minutes of red-splotched pages and suggested revisions and deletions, I gave up and decided to write a poem instead. So. . . Enjoy.

The pen a blood-red knife
slicing through pages,
oozing ink in scratches.

Stabbing errors,
bleeding changes,
murder in thesis form.

Add a section--
maybe three.
Put this at the end.

Delete, rephrase,
explain this more.
The blood-ink oozes faster.

Hobbling on ice-thin legs,
the tortured thesis
gasps for breath.

I'd almost rather
hear her say,
"Scratch this. Change it all,"

than slog through
death and blood and words.
But my zombie-thesis LIVES.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Death and Other Delusions of Aunt Marge

"Heeeeeelp! Help help help! Death! Dead! Deaaaaaad!" My chickens screamed at me from the back porch. I sighed, closed my book, and went to see what was the matter.
"What's up, Looney Goons?" I asked as I took stock. Water, check. Food, check. Grass, check. Heat lamp, check. "You seem to be fine," I told them.
"Noooooo! Aunt Marge opened her beak wide and screamed at me. "Deaaaaaad!"
I looked at her in suspicion. Clarice, laying behind her, ruffled her feathers and yawned, easing into sleep by the heat lamp.
"I really don't think anything's wrong," I repeated.

Three eerie howls sounded from far off. "Seeeee?" Aunt Marge screamed again. "Death!"
Agatha ran up and shoved her head under Aunt Marge's stomach. "Hiiiiide meeee!"
Bagpipes sauntered over, curious as to why they were still awake. "Ladies. . ." he began. Then he heard what they were saying. "What, death? Really? Death? Deaaaaath?" He began to screel loudly and tried to hide underneath them both.

By this point, Tabitha had wandered over and was staring at the trio with her head cocked. "Whaa?" she asked. Then, "Death? Deaath?" she tried out the new sound, then decided it wasn't for her. She headed over to sleep next to Clarice.

Agatha, her head finally under Bagpipes's belly, decided this was good enough for her. Ruffling her feathers, she settled herself down. Bagpipes took this as a good sign and started to lay down beside her. But Aunt Marge would have none of it. "Noooooooo!" she screamed. "Deaaaaaaath! Heard it! Dead! Death! Deaaaaath!"
Agatha perked up again at this. "Death?" Then remembering that she was supposed to be terrified, "Right! Death!" She spun her head around, crazy-eyed.
Bagpipes, eyes closed, gurgled a soothing rattle in his throat. He was much too tired for this. "It's okay, loves. . ."
"No death, no death," Bagpipes gurgled again.
"Nooo. . ." His eyes closed.

"Death?" Aunt Marge looked around, but no one was listening. "Death," she muttered to no one in particular. "Dead death. . . deadness!" She scuffed the ground, then settled down for an uneasy rest, still calling out at irregular intervals, "Death? Deaaath?" but much softer now.

A buzzing sounded near Tabitha's ear. Her eyes sprang open and she saw a long-legged flying thing in front of her eyes. "Eat it!" her brain called. "Taste like cricket! Maybe!" she jabbed out her beak and caught the flying thing. "Yum!" she yelled, then carefully tip-toed away from the fuzzy group of sleeping bodies. "Yum yum yum. Bug of mine! Bug for me!" she sang, bobbing her head back and forth as she tried to maneuver the struggling insect into her throat. Then suddenly, as she flipped the insect to get a better hold on it, it jumped out of her beak and flew into the light. Distraught, Tabitha watched as it spun wildly around the metal cone, its buzzing becoming ever louder.

Aunt Marge, who still wasn't quite asleep, heard the racket and glanced up. As she watched, it came within her reach. She thrust her head forward and. . . "Got it!" All thoughts of death forgotten, Aunt Marge gobbled down Tabitha's insect as the smaller chicken watched in dismay. She smacked her invisible lips, scratched at the sand a few times, then settled down to sleep.  Tabitha gave what appeared to be a chicken sigh and laid down beside her. As the mass of feathers and fluff finally fell silent and began to breathe in unison, a train whistle sounded in the distance.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Melodramatic Chickens

"Help! Help!" my chickens screamed at me from their coop. "We're being attacked! We're almost dead! Save us!" It was the same sound Tabitha made when she thought the cricket she was eating was attacking her.
"What's up, chickies?" I crouched by the door. Five pairs of dinosaur feet rushed toward me. Agatha and Aunt Marge, the largest chickens, stretched out their necks and peered at me with round eyes. "What?" I asked again. Clarice was busy eating sand.

I sighed, then went around the edge of the coop to check their food dish. The mechanism to keep it flowing out wasn't working and the tray was empty. "See?" their eyes accused me. "Broken! Starving! Have to eat sand!" Clarice had followed the others, but was still munching on the floor-covering.

"Poor chickies!" I exclaimed and opened the door. When I stepped inside, Tabitha ran over to me and cocked her head at my toes. Then she inched forward, pecked one, and quickly retreated. Seeing that I didn't mind, she followed my feet and tried to eat my toes as I fixed the food dispenser. It was soon swarmed by the feathery monsters, who sent food flying as they stuffed their mouths.