John Grey: Haitian Cockfight, 1953

Down from the mountains men come,
each with a rooster tucked under the arm,
fighting cocks, some small and feisty,
some huge enough to knock out with one blow.

Their women follow, huge breasted
many of them, like there’s hens shoved down
their cotton dresses, garland for strutting champions,
for he who wears the champion’s comb.

These men seldom fight each other.
They let the birds be their anger,
their suspicions, their way in the world.
And women don’t love much. They reward.

Everyone in the village and beyond
comes to the bedlam.
They crowd around a ring of dust
while fowl peck and scratch for blood.

The battles go on into the humid night.
Some men leave with battered corpses
for the cook-stove.
Others strut more than their beasts.

Finally, the moon cools the frenzy.
It shines where blood can only stain.
It takes the sky without raising a claw.

It rules till some cock crows otherwise.

United States, March 23, 2011



Residing in the United States since the late seventies, John Grey is an Australian born poet who works as a financial systems analyst. His work has been published in the Connecticut ReviewAlimentum Writer’s BlockPennsylvania English, Prism International and the Great American Poetry Show.

2 thoughts on “John Grey: Haitian Cockfight, 1953

  1. In Haiti, in any neighborhood, if your father didn’t know how to raise a fighting cock then he wasn’t a real father. Cockfighting is a big deal in Haiti.

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