The Great Chicken Poets of Arkansas

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Clearly
she didn’t want to be there
fielding tourists at the Visitor Information Center
Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Boredom dripped out
in her sighs
and fingers grazing tired
across a map
here a river, there a lake
everywhere a good time

Miss Arkansas Information at last became
inexplicably animated as I neared the exit:
Tourism is very important to Arkansas
It’s the number two, uh …

Industry?
Why yes, right after poe’try

I perked clean out of my interstate daze
Nobody told me poetry was big business in Arkansas
Poetry? I repeated, incredulous
Oh my, yes! she puffed
Chicken, turkey, all kinds of poe’try…

Well, I’d just come from a cowboy poetry festival in Oklahoma
so why not chicken poetry?
My informant chirped merrily:
Why honey, there’s Tyson and Cargill and …

No doubt famous Arkansas Chicken Poets, I deduced
Inspired by my interest, she crowed
Yes ma’am, we’ve got more farms than anywhere else in America
Farms?

Well, shoot
soon as I get back to San Francisco I’m gonna tell everybody
California ain’t got nothin’ on Arkansas—
They’re breeding poets out there like they was dad gum chickens!

© Lisa Martinovic

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