The name of this poem is 'Home to Roost'. When I wrote it, I was kicking myself for a number of choices that I'd made. But when I went to send it to an editor in New York, it was at the time of 9/11, and it was on her desk at that time, and it suddenly sounded exactly as though I was commenting on that event, as it was happening. And I had to call her and ask for the poem back, it was so cruel. Although now I think that it would have had a certain element of truth, but it would have been a very inappropriate truth for that time.

Home to Roost


The chickens
Are circling and
Blotting out the
Day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens,
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
again. These
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small-
various breeds.
Now they have
Come home
To roost – all
The same kind
At the same speed.

from The Niagara River (Grove Press, 2005), © Kay Ryan 2005, used by permission of the author and Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Poetry Foundation recording made on 11 Sept 2007, San Francisco, California.

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