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.