The Great Chicken Poets of Arkansas

by Lisa Martinovic

Sound effects by Kyle Kellams


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 …

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

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