Poems of the Week

International Respect for Chickens Day

by Ed Shacklee

Aretha Franklin, sounding unrehearsed,
once sang respect is given, not coerced;
but though a million radios dispersed

her urgent wisdom, eloquently versed,
beneath the beat the message was submersed.
Yet as we’d wish if roles had been reversed,

let’s give the hens respect for which they thirst
and pecks of praise, with cheering interspersed,
their kindnesses with kindness reimbursed.

Some cluck or shake their heads—their lips are pursed,
for pride’s the sour milk on which we’re nursed—
convinced that men are best when we’re the worst;

but on this day when broody chickens burst
with pride, we should, with eggs, admit: they’re first.