Rooster in Rime Royal
By Noel Crook
The chickens conveyed when we bought our farm.
At the time there seemed no sense in asking
why the rooster's name was Three Alarm--
we just assumed it had to do with rising
early. We admired his cascading
tail, his jaunty comb, his harem of hens
(fine layers, said the seller, with a grin).
So eager to commence our farming ways,
we bought two pigs posthaste, patched up
the barn and sagging tack-house, then replaced
the fence, while Three patrolled the barn-yard
and eyed us with one beady eye. His surveillance
took a darker turn when Jim, my husband,
started hammering on the hen-house.
Next morning, during breakfast, we ignored
the yellow eye pressed against the window.
We used the back door, skirted past the porch,
and got to work. Three paced and sauntered so
the spurs above his ankles showed,
his red comb cocked in marked indifference,
until he sprang and slashed Jim in the pants.
There were rules of war those next few days.
Jim and that rooster circled, struck, and fled;
brandished beak and shovel, spurs and rakes.
"You try ammonia in a squirt gun," said
a neighbor, "those birds can get right pesky."
So, at the Five-and-Dime in town, Jim procured
a plastic water pistol, sleek and purple.
We forgot the recommended ammo,
so he pumped it full of Bombay gin,
slammed out the kitchen door like some pale Pancho
Villa, met Three full out at the geranium
bed. Before he could take aim,
Three struck, but in a flash Jim had him by
the neck, and flapping wild and crazy eyed.
We buried our old rooster over where
the well-house used to be, put his carcass
in a Bandolino shoe box. So there
we were, roosterless
farmers, nothing left to do but reminisce.
And then, to top it off, a fox got in
the chicken coop and picked off all our hens.