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Poem White Feathered

Poem White Feathered

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Published by Chad Prevost
First published in The Southern Review. Also a finalist for Cutthroat's Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Title poem for forthcoming chapbook collection from Q Avenue Press.
First published in The Southern Review. Also a finalist for Cutthroat's Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Title poem for forthcoming chapbook collection from Q Avenue Press.

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Published by: Chad Prevost on Jul 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/25/2012

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W
HITE
-F
EATHERED
B
ODIES
 Tonight, sipping Dickel across the street from Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken ProcessingPlant,I think how solitary, poor, brutish and short life is,as Hobbes wrote in
Leviathan
. I feel like believing all over again in the sad andinstructive storiesthey raised me on in the cracker-smell, Sunday Schoolclassroom. A truck full of white-feathered bodies groans to a halt. The sun sets,and the hensrest in their cages one more glorious night.In the ER across town, even as we speak, a man sleeps on a steel table, underthe mercy of the anesthetist’s cocktail with no ideaeverything he will ever see has already disappeared into his mind. All he did wasslip and hitan oak knot. His chainsaw bounced up tricky,and burred a line across his eyes. Whenever you walk the long halls of ErlangerEast you needa story that is not sad and instructive. The dying know the body all too well already. Sometimes they look to you insomething like awe.Sometimes their bodies glowas their hearts flatline and you can feel them looking down upon you. Last night,the wheelchair-bound man with the glazed eyes woketo find he can move his head and slightly lift his shoulders. How can you imaginethe way it would feel to wake one morningand never know the miracle is how much you will lose today? Then, to learn he’dbeen beatinghis wife, and his landlord shot him in the neck.A truck pulls out of Pilgrim’s Pride in the dusk-light, the cages empty of thewhite-featheredbodies. Somewhere, this evening, someone laughs,full of an unconscious joy—of the world’s particular scriptures breathed intobliss. You believeit’s what this drowsy bar needs on the South Sidebeside the
carneceria
with the smell of cumin, chorizo and jalapenos rising fromthe rafters,side by side with the lost souls who refuse
 
to leave the abandoned slaughterhouse next door. You might say we all getwhat we deserve,but how can anyone really know?Can you believe it was the Persian Zoroastrians who offered the early Hebrew’sa way outof their belief in Sheol where all spiritsvaguely roamed? A life moves toward virtue or vice, as Aristotle said. But wheredoes the life go?Consider the end of Noah, his hung-over curseupon the youngest son, Canaan, not even the one who covered him up or sawthe old patriarchin his nakedness; Tamar’s rape; Solomon’s despair,even with 700 wives and his Holy of Holies; Absalom caught between theheavens and earth,his hair tangled in an oak. Everything crashes back. Tonight, Homero and Moises, lit up with Cuervo, snap their pool cues with adirected energy. They swagger, whistle, show a few gold teeth.Romero even buys you a drink and gives you his best advice—“You can’t throwpearls before swine.”And a saying—“The one who holds the leg of the cowis as guilty as the one who chops off the head.” What they’re looking for isn’tsomething sador instructive. They just want you to show themthe unadulterated joy of the initiated who’ve crossed over and returned. Theywant youto give them something they refuse to believewhile every day all around them is only what they see, hear, smell, taste or feel.Everything elseis just a privilege for higher castes.In joints like these, no one admits they believe in ghosts, but everyone lives onthe fumes of tragedies.Cassandra swears she found a wellbeneath some loose basement boards, but she was in the kitchen when the sinkfilled with blood:a hand forcing her head down.She screamed. Then the blood, the hand, disappeared. Lucia’s a psychic. Shesays the well smellslike the woman’s head still floatsin the invisible water. Sometimes everyone hears screaming. Lucia says thewoman refusesto cross over. The woman tells Lucia when they found her head,the mob thought Sam Carpenter, her black boyfriend, murdered her. They

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