Two Poems


Fifth Estate # 352, Winter, 1999

The poetry of Christina Pacosz is remarkable for its insistent and deeply compassionate crossing of that deceptive boundary between what we have been tragically trained to think of as the separate domains of culture and nature. Grief, protest, nurture and celebration are woven together in a body of work that places history within the household of the natural world, promising imminent and continual renewal of the spirit.

Born and raised in Detroit, Christina has lived all over the U.S., including in Alaska and the Carolinas, and currently lives in Kansas City. Besides publishing in numerous magazines, she has published two chapbooks, Shimmy Up to This Fine Mud (Poets Warehouse) and Notes from the Red Zone (Seal Press). Her collection, Some Winded, Wild Beast (Black & Red) is available for $3 from our book service (see page 20 for book ordering information).

— D.W.

1.  A Commentary on Modern Existence as Noted by a Chicken on the Freeway near Columbia, South Carolina (poem)

I did not cross this road

to get to the other side,

turning chicken-hearted midway

and stopping, a stunned white blur

of feathers crouching on the broken

white line. I tumbled from a truck,

the victim of a broken latch

and freedom is a cruel joke,

my life a cruel hoax

passing before my eyes.

Life on the chicken lager


crowded up against a sea

of squawking feathers,

sawed-off beaks to keep us

from pecking at each other

and the profits, thousands

of chicken eyes staring up

at the sky, while rain pours down

and we drown, or the sun bakes us

right where we stand.

Stupid chickens, the verdict,

whatever the weather.


The position of the human

in the pecking order,

the rank and serial number

of our respective fates,

raises objection to the term lager

and all its terrible history.

Exaggeration! the counterpoint

to this lament. No matter.

Smack in the middle

of technology’s awful whoosh and whizz

no one can hear the question:


How long does it take

a chicken to die?

Rescue is a luxury

and the safety

of a quiet coop on a backwater farm

a distant dream.

Helpless as the startled motorists

who speed by,

my only satisfaction:

this death will not

feed them.

2. Shoal Creek, Solstice (poem)

Some things are, you believe,

beyond repair—

a china gravyboat, the fledgling bob-white.

The not too distant river.


Your life.

What to think, then,

of the pinch of tobacco

you offer brown water?


How to reconcile

the palms of both hands

together? Your head

bowed before the old oak,


roots like entrails

girding eroded limestone,

symmetrical as a hand-

built wall.


A crow cruises overhead,

an eye out

for eternity.

Leaves whisper


be ready

at a moment’s notice

for opportunity

to walk through the door.