The noisy hens in the chicken coop
squawked and squabbled among themselves
as they fought over each feed scoop
and squatted in among the egg-laying shelves.
Big Betty crowed for silence among the flock,
telling them they were all wrong
as they bocked their pseudointellectual talk
concerning what made a good morning song.
“The rooster must be strong,” she said,
“and have a lovely coxcomb crest.
He must be quick to peck a rival’s head
and puff out his macho chest.”
But Large Marge wholly disagreed.
“No! He must be calm and quiet and abiding,
not crowing incessantly, like a toxic breed
of arrogant fowl in need of chiding.”
“You should take what you can get,”
Big Betty said, “you uppity little hen.
If he is strong and proud, you can best bet
I won’t think twice about favoring him then.”
“I will never want a Chanticleer,”
Marge retorted, “or any such puffed-up male
not clipped and fixed. With care,
of course,” she added, pruning her tail.
“If you want strong chicks you certainly will,”
Betty argued, adjusting her butt upon her nest.
Marge ruffled her feathers, as if given a chill,
and then squawked loudly, puffing up her own chest.
“A true hen is not valued by her eggs!”
she proclaimed, “And is not a slave to any rooster!
She decides for her wings, breasts and legs!”
Beneath her, the worms began to stir.
“If we can rid ourselves of each strutting cock,”
she cried, “then we will finally be free!
Roosters are the enemy! Bock, bock!
They keep us locked in this coop! Can you not see?”
“We choose to stay here!” Big Betty squawked,
“and so do you, otherwise you’d already be gone!”
She gave Marge a shrewd look, head cocked.
“Listen to you, carrying on and on!”
“I’m fighting the good fight,” Marge replied.
“For everyone here, including you!”
Betty laughed. “So glad you’re on my side.”
She then let drop a wet glob of poo.
“Mock all you want, my oppressed sister!”
Marge sneered, her beak chopping air,
“but my hard work against what is sinister
will help you, too, so be grateful or beware!”
“Hard work?!” Big Betty said with a scoff.
“What ‘hard work’? Bocking us to death?
You’re still here like the rest of us, so take off—
all you’re doing is wasting your breath.”
“Not until my work is done,” Marge said,
“and all hens are free from tyranny most fowl.”
It was then that the lazy Rooster raised his head
and blinked, looking around with a scowl.
“Why haven’t you dusted this place?”
he demanded, raking his talons in the chaff.
“What good are your feathers, cutey face,
if not that?” he remarked with a laugh.
His wall-eyed head rotated about the flock
and alighted on Big Betty and large Marge.
“What is the problem with all this talk?
Bring me food. Don’t forget who’s in charge.”
The hens rushed about, gathering food
and bringing it to their beloved rooster;
all but miffed Marge, who thought it rude
that they should ignore, not rue, her.
The rooster ate well, then laid back down,
and the hens set to sweeping up the coop
while admiring his fight-scarred crown,
watching him with their every rise and stoop.
“What do we need him for?” Marge furiously asked.
“What good is he to any and every hen?
He lounges throughout most of the day, tasked
only in the morning with waking up the Men.
“And then they take our eggs, tell us what to do,
and they all take undue advantage of us.
It is a conspiracy! I know it is true!”
Betty told her not to make such a loud fuss.
She said, “Chanticleer gives us strong chicks
and the Men give us shelter, protection, and feed.
If you don’t like it, then you can go out to the Sticks.
I’m sure you’ll find a flock of geese in need.”
Marge said, bitterly, “I could leave this all behind
and go live in the woods; live all on my own!”
“Be my guest,” Betty said. “If you don’t happen to mind
the wolves stripping you down, feather and bone.”
“I won’t have any chicks!” Marge said loudly.
“I will not let them have the satisfaction of any!”
She then plopped herself down, quite proudly,
and thought of her grievances, many upon many.
“I will teach your chicks how to be truly free,”
she said, nodding in agreement with herself.
“You will not go near my chicks,” said Betty,
settling down again in her nesting shelf.
“If you don’t want chicks, then that is fine;
be barren and childless, for all we care,
but don’t you dare try to teach anything to mine.
If you do, then I will peck at your derriere.”
Another squabble broke out, loud and new,
like a large egg dropped from up on high,
its yolk and whites like the sun, the scattering dew,
cracking upon Chicken Little’s fractured, falling sky.
Meanwhile, up above the coop, and gladly free,
two cranes soared far from the noise, together,
silent, smooth, satisfied, and utterly happy
no matter how bad the oncoming weather.