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Poetry Winners

The Cockerel (On the shores of the Chesapeake Bay--1960)

First Place

By E.C. Vojik | Posted 12/2/2009

Everyone said it was a shame but Uncle Charlie, solitary

In the ramshackle shanty near the coop he kept;

Next year the cockerel would be tough, and a rival in the pen,

So a tender meal now for a worthless bird was not such a bad idea.

So they chose me, the callow great-nephew,

The executioner for my old uncle

Who, with narrowed sight and doddering hands,

Lived a simple life of cigars, Czech newspapers, and chickens.

My uncle, followed by an Airedale bitch,

Stretched the young cock across a tree stump.

Sunlight gleamed off the sharpened axe I poised

High for the strike.

"Jezis!" my uncle cried, at the glancing first blow.

The damaged bird kicked and writhed, nearly escaping the grasp.

Only my uncle's urgent eyes kept me from turning away,


The second cut clean through.

Dark blood spewed like hot urine,

Spattering my khaki pants and my uncle's frazzled sweater

As he threw the bird into a basket.

The bitch went wild with the blood,

Nipping and howling at the still twitching corpse.

I stood quivering,

Barely able to fumble the decapitation

Onto brown paper for crab bait.

And my old uncle,

Wiping his glasses on the clean of his sweater,

Nodded approvingly.

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What Was Janie Looking At? (12/2/2009)
Second Place

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