Rebecca Gayle Howell

How to Kill a Hen

Enter the night coop



Through your teeth



In this awful world of sorrow



In this wicked path of sin


Tuck her

under your arm


and walk away

from the laying birds


the cuckold-morning

rising in their dumb wings


Walk away from sleep


Make sure her hollow bones

alone will be warmed by it


your wordless bellows



For this is your gift to her


Tell her

you never think of tomorrow


Tell her

what youd lose in the end


Enter the night coop



Leave whistling

Climb the dust hill


When you get up

to the house


ring once the orbit

of your failing


Over your head

a breaking neck


For this is your gift to her:


You can hear your savior calling

barefaced and feather red



This poem first appeared in Still (Spring 2012) and is from Render / An Apocalypse (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013).