No Longer

before they turn off the lights
at the last slaughterhouse
they cover the chickens in foam

I wear a broken mouth where a river
once branched like a wishbone
like a chromosome

outside the door to the party
I beg myself don’t tell them
about the chickens

don’t tell them
how miserable you are
but I want to matter

the modern chicken is bred to live
no longer than forty-seven days  

I wear a broken wing
where my mouth should be

sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten
how to breathe
they turn off the lights after I leave


Brian Russell is the author of The Year of What Now (Graywolf). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Kenyon Review. He lives in St. Louis. 

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