Chicken Blood

by Hervey Allen

Hervey Allen

The old black crone beside the fire
Will be awake this Friday night,
Honing an axe — honing, honing —
And a West Indian melody intoning.
For Saturday will bring at early light
The wagons with the chickens from the farm,
And she will taste the last of all delight —
Killing, killing chickens in the court,
The old, dark granny's only sport —
The axe and twitching bodies, and the blood
Upon her hands, splashes on her face like mud
From thick volcanic springs still warm.

To-night she takes the clay pipe from her hair —
Honing, honing —
And lights it by the faggot's orange glare,
Sucking the rank tobacco and the midnight air —
This old West Indian crone —
Drooling, droning, feeling the axe along,
Crooning, moaning an old, old song.

Ah, sweet, to take another being's breath!
So near the grave,
To prove herself alive by dealing death.
To hear the sudden chop, chop, chop,
To see the headless bodies flap and flop —
The piteous chuckling and the chortling
Of her victims and the thrill
Of the axe, and the flash,
And the flap, flap, — plop —
And the rows of feathered bodies lying still!

" Ah-eee, " she sings and she sighs,
Listening to the mating of the cats, and the cries
Of the owls and the ring
Of the axe that she fingers
With the touch of the harpist, when he lingers
On the last high note —
That is rising in her throat —
She could sing to the axe, she could sing!

Last updated September 05, 2017