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Dead for a chicken,

Murder most fowl

Two big men encased in blood rage

And metal heavier than morality

Hold back the arms of the struggling farmer

While a third drives iron into his belly

Split like a poussin

Spinning on a spit

the sharp point of a pointless war

Spatchcocked, split and despatched

Liberally larded with farm yard mud

Basted with his own hot blood

Returning home to roost

Dead for a chicken

Dead for nothing

Dead for something

After all

You can’t roast valour with onions

Nor stuff love of country with rosemary

On make soup the next day

Out of the carcass of faith

They laugh these men of honour

These brave boys of war

At the peasant who

rushed to protect the roost

Full of indignation and choler

As they put his chicken shed to the fire

A common place brutality as lords of land

Fight over the heads of their subjects

Subjecting them to horror

A punishment meted out by princes

To force a lesson on kings

That peasant pawns and play things

Can be broken, scattered across the floor

Playthings in this war of vanity

A hundred years absent of humanity

‘you have no right …;

but muscle and might

show chivalry only to their own kind

‘You can’t do that ..

But of course they could

And can, and will and do

And will do so still.

Is it worth dying for a chicken

Not for rulers, not for England or France,

just for home and hearth

for dignity and defiance ?

not for his cowering, freshly widowed wife

not for these unaccustomed orphans

grieving , still fearful for home and life

certainly not for the chickens

cindered before their allotted span

led fate to ring their neck and put them in a pan.

But perhaps, yes

Amid the smoke, a rosemary tang is in the air,

Almost tasting of rebellion,

To honour the remembrance

Of a farmer and his flock.

52 views4 comments


Unknown member
Dec 13, 2023

I've been listening to a podcast (Yes there are other podcasts) about the years after the Norman invasion. All of this rings so true and was perfectly acceptable to the so-called chivalrous. I love the cooking theme throughout. Food is so important. The denial of food and other aid to innocents as a potent weapon of war between the ruling classes is as old as time.


Jarlath Busby
Jarlath Busby
Dec 12, 2023

Powerful and beautifully written.


Stephen Kingsnorth
Stephen Kingsnorth
Dec 12, 2023

It seems strange to 'like' something so grim, but our histories are filled with the worst of humanity, with occasional candles of light seeping through the gloom. I suppose our savageries of today are sometimes better hidden, more subtle or discreet but no less vile - and Gaza shows more bare-faced than most. Words are one weapon we can all use for good or ill. The scent of herbs hopefully hangs in the air longer than the immediate violence - some kind of incense when we are incensed!


Darrell Troon
Darrell Troon
Dec 12, 2023

A poem of.violence to man fowl and flock, war is always there, somewhere. well.done Mark.

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