Home to Roost

By Kay Ryan b. 1945 Kay Ryan
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.

Kay Ryan, “Home to Roost” from The Niagara River. Copyright © 2005 by Kay Ryan. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Source: Poetry (May 2003).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2003
 Kay  Ryan


Born in California in 1945 and acknowledged as one of the most original voices in the contemporary landscape, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry, including Flamingo Watching (2006), The Niagara River (2005), and Say Uncle (2000). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Ryan's tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Social Commentaries, Life Choices


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