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[audio:https://killauthor.com/audio/issuetwelve/ken_poyner.mp3|titles=How The Coop Was Broken|artists=Ken Poyner]

The congress of kittens huddles in a corner of the chicken coop. Their mother is a polar bear, but, finding herself pregnant in a dicey environment, elected instead to bear kittens. Moving south was the difficult part.

Not all the kittens are hers, so there is an embedded social misconstruction: some are kittens of cat mothers, some are kittens of the polar bear mother. At least in the coop, the chickens cannot tell the difference; they sit at roost and think, well, now they are kittens and manageable, but, if they elect to stay, they will one day be cats and extraordinarily secular.

The congress cannot decide on what to decide since it has not decided on parliamentary procedures. Overhead, the thermals are practicing disdain and it is still possible that the congress will be irrelevant, perhaps even the kittens.

The chickens hope so. The kittens would be more manageable independently.

I am outside trying to reason with the polar bear. The door is too small. It is not a commercial coop. Let the kittens be your eyes. The bear smoothes the house dress she put on just for this occasion, trying to stay between me and the body of the woman who was mauled for the dress.

I am simply trying to sell the farm.

I want the railroad to come through and make me rich. I could not care less whether the kittens can get their rafter of procedures ratified and move on, but I want to include them in the sale, perhaps have them itemized.

I cannot let the polar bear know.

The kittens who belong to the bear are beginning to see religion as the alternative. They spin in one corner of the coop and stop communicating with the others. Every so often they count themselves, thinking they know the sacred number of kittens the polar bear bore.

For the moment, the polar bear and I are laughing at twice-told jokes. Getting along famously is my specialty. I think I have this all wrapped up and ever more of my attention is devoted to listening for the locomotive, seeing tracks in the melon mounds.

And when the sun is shining as full as a laundry line on the kittens’ efforts to build a ritual, the chickens with hawk feathered talons and timepiece beaks come rugby down shouting NOW.

I cannot hold the polar bear back.