On a farm in Petaluma, lived a hen, whose name was Bertha,
Whose dark feathers were a source of discontentment, gloom and more.
As she walked about the farmyard, looking out she spied a barnyard
Full of hens with plumage lighter, whiter than the Ibis wore.
Thus said Bertha, “Black no more!”
It was more than her flecked brownness. She despised her beak’s cruel wideness,
And her breast was slight and formless as it drooped right to the floor.
Her physique was meant for laying, in the hay for who was paying,
Daily eggs with no delaying, staying till her rump was sore—
Till groaned Bertha, “Lay no more!”
To an older hen she muttered, cursing fate as foul she uttered.
Clucked and crew, harangued and fluttered, stuttered on the farmyard floor,
“Why have I such swarthy feathers? teeny breast? A butt that tethers
High above two thighs so shabby, flabby as the farmer’s boar!
Why! Oh why me? I implore!”
“On that farm as I was saying, live white hens, who do no laying.
Since I’ve seen them I’ve been praying for the chance to join their score.
Theirs are days of always eating, up-scale pens and better-treating,
While my nights are full of moaning, groaning like the farmer’s whore?”
Swore bold Bertha, “Pimped no more!”
“In the dark I’ll cross the highway, walking or by secret flyway.
Then I’ll have a life that’s my way—free of our fowl loathsome chore.
With the whitest cocks I’ll cuckol, flit about and cack or cluckle,
I’ll be there while you, my neighbor, labor at what I deplore.
There I’ll stay forevermore.”
But the older hen thus pleaded, “There you’ll surely be mistreated,
You’ll no doubt be rudely greeted from the time you reach the door.
They will ridicule the inference that you seem to make in difference,
Criticize your beak and breast and test your patience to the core—
Make life worse than e’er before.”
“While we sometimes wish for better, thinking grass is always wetter
On the other side of fetter, road or fence or chain or door—
True contentment lies inside us, happiness and bliss abide us.
Thus we’re better seeking solace, solace from our inner store—
Only then our spirits soar.”
But young Bertha, feathers ruffled, swore aloud, then huffed and puffled.
Yet the worst she said was muffled as they scuffled on that floor.
Beak to claw the hens grew bloody, staining darkened feathers ruddy,
Till at last her mother, muddy, muddy for the blood and gore,
Sighed at last, “I’ll fight no more!”
Then flew Bertha to that haven, fast as swift and grave as raven,
To the perch that she’d been cravin, boldly bravin fates in store.
In the barn house she got nested, and when finally she rested,
All the hopes that she’d invested, rested on the farmyard floor.
She walked slowly out the door…