Umbrella’s lighter offshoot

Jennifer Reeser

is the author of  two full-length poetry collections, An Alabaster Flask, winner of the Word Press First Book Prize, and Winterproof and also the author of the cycle Sonnets from the Dark Lady.

Her poems, essays, and translations of Russian and French literature appear internationally in such journals as PoetrySalt, The Formalist, and The Dark Horse.

Jennifer has given lectures, readings and seminars at the high school and junior high levels, as well as on college campuses and community venues from New York City to the U.S. Gulf Coast. She is the mother of five and lives in southern Louisiana.

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Sylvia Plath’s Chicken Crosses The Road

I will not stoop, I will not stoop
any more, old coop
in which I have layed like a slave
for thirty months, clucking and plucked,
bare between burlap and pony poop.

Farmyard, I have had to leave you,
get out while there’s still time
gunny sack grey with the bay
of prisoner puppies and porkers
round as a plump, pink squeal,

and a bay, yea, I say, a bay
at the moon, too, too, and your waters blue
for drowning the mistress’s kittens: achoo,
Farmer Frankenstein goes as he dries out his clothes
from the kill.

I had hoped you might yield something new
with a Tatar refrain in my hen-pecking brain,
but these idiots don’t have a clue,
bean-greens, green beans,
back and forth with their 18-wheel loads.

I used to try to appreciate you
this side of that hellish, freakish road
where I once saw a toad, feral and flattened
by a passing sedan,
a Tatar toad, I knew,
a toad from L.A., Boston, Kalamazoo.
I envied the toad.
I think I want to be that toad:
the old cock’s in pursuit,
there’s a boot in my route,
and the worm I catch early won’t do.

Farmyard, you stand in my mind like a scythe,
not kindly, not blithea jail
with a nail in your gate,
neither rusty, trusty, nor true.
Farmyard, I have come to loathe you,

a tale in my gullet,
something stuck in my craw.
I despise categorical husbandry law,
and that fence, and this brooding, the damned weathervane, too.
Farmyard, Farmyard, you fascist. We’re through.