Mary Hamrick


The customers were like young vines
quivering throughout the restaurant.
Most of them were fired-up ex-servicemen;
they prattled on about lippy women,
leery politics, and the labor of war.
Uncle Desi believed if peace of mind and truth
carried a man into alienation--then it would be his duty
to become a misfit and a perfect man.
His wounds were drawn by tragic painters
and we were all imprinted with the penetration of his scars.

Uncle Desi never went to the slaughterhouse
to buy the chickens that he served to his customers.
Aunt Jackie always volunteered to fetch them.
The chickens were side-by-side
and penned-in. Bending forward,
my aunt arched over them and molded her fierce,
twig-fingers into the plump bodies of the animals--
as though she was pecking at them.
The butchers would slit their throats
and hang the chosen birds by a tile wall.
They’d plunge them into boiling water
(loose feathers floating).
We saw bluish veins, heard broken bones,
and listened to prisoners squawking, as if they knew
they were about to be pulled apart.

They were all roughed up:
legs with skin hanging, organs wrapped and placed in bags.
You could smell burnt flesh when lit matches ignited
those small hairs.

The male customers devoured chicken at the restaurant.
They binged on pasta,
drank beer, ate pretzels,
and with the combat of lazy arguments
they seemed like the Greek nymph, Echo:
body and spirits wasted away--
with only a voice surviving.

Mary Hamrick is married and was raised in New York and Florida. Poetry publications include the following: Architecture Ink, Poetry Repair Shop, Tattoo Highway, Promise (Purple Rose Publications) and others.