Gwendolyn the Chicken

Gwendolyn the Chicken
"Say Mack, how old could a chicken get to be, if it didn’t get sick,
and nobody pushed it around, do you reckon?"
From Cannery Row, by J. Steinbeck

Gwendolyn the chicken
Lived upon a farm
And through good luck and prudence
Never came to any harm
She pecked up her corn
Just like all the rest
And for those healthy vitamins
Would eat the odd insect
She awoke each day at dawn
And exercised really hard
She held the chicken record
Fourteen seconds round the yard
Through this healthy life style
She reached a ripe old age
Seven years, three hundred
And sixty four happy days.
The farmer had often thought
Gwen should go in the pot
But when she saw the axe
She vanished like a shot.
Then one fateful day
The hungry farmers wife
With murderous intent
Whetted her carving knife
Her eyes were cold and hard
And her lips were thin
For the time had come
To cook poor Gwendolyn.
The farmer smiled grimly
As he was looking on
And lest the knife should fail
He’d loaded his shotgun
For Gwen had eaten of their corn
Each and every day
And scratched about in the dust
And slept upon the hay
But it had been a year
Or maybe more since when
The farmer ate an egg
Laid by that ageing hen.
The drama then began and
The glinting steel fell
But before it landed
Gwendolyn ran like hell.
Trying then to thwart her
The farmer stuck out his foot
And the whistling knife went slicing
Through his wellington boot
Two toes he then lost
To the razor edge
And fired off his shot gun
In a moment of blind rage
His wife had just dived after
The chicken who had run
And got a load of buckshot
In her ample bum.
Gwen went round the yard
In a new record time
But died of a heart attack
As she crossed the line.
The farmer and his wife
Spent a week in hospital
And of this sorry story
There’s little more to tell
She was seven years old
But now she is late
Dear Gwendolyn the chicken
Who never was eight.