Notes from the Commonwealth
I want to be the chicken in the front seat of that Cadillac
driving down Route 11. The chicken that reaches
for the steering wheel when there’s another chicken
in the road. The chicken that changes a fl at tire
and the chicken that doesn’t get beat up for loving
other chickens. I want to be the red feathered chicken
with white feathered chicks. The chicken with big breasts
that doesn’t wear a bra. The chicken that can actually fl y;
I’d soar over Pennsylvania, over cornfi elds,
and over the prison. I’d free caged chickens
and dig graves for dead chickens.
I’d tie a dollar to a string and catch the guards
who guard jailed chickens. I’d wear my human costume,
patrol the highways, and pull over chicken trucks.
Maybe I want to be a chicken because a chicken’s
life is short; a chicken’s panic is usually caged.
Maybe I am chicken when I don’t hold my wife’s hand
at the movies or on a walk through town. I’m chicken
when I pull my arm off her shoulder after someone
whispers, eww, homos. Chicken feathers have taken over
my face and skin and courage. I’m the chicken
craning my neck through bars and the chicken
with a broken beak.
This selection comes from the book, The Book of Dirt, available from NYQ Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.
Nicole Santalucia is the author of Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press) and Spoiled Meat (Headmistress Press). She is a recipient of the Charlotte Mew Chapbook Prize and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Her non-fiction and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Best American Poetry 2019, The Cincinnati Review, TINGE, Zócalo Public Square, The Seventh Wave, Gertrude, Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Santalucia teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and has taught poetry workshops in the Cumberland County Prison, Shippensburg Public Library, Boys & Girls Clubs, and nursing homes. She lives in conservative-small-town Pennsylvania with her wife.
Nilsa Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. Nilsa Rivera’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.
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