Issue 11, December 2013
{ Bill Monroe Plays the Chicken Festival (Dover, Delaware, 1978) }
by Tim Hunt
At the Delmarva Chicken Festival you can buy
a shirt that reads I Got Laid at the Delmarva
Chicken Festival and watch them fry chicken in a pan
bigger than a round bed in a Vegas penthouse suite
where the high roller bounces with a brace or three
of local bunnies, and you can watch the muskrat trappers
cleaned up for the day mingle with the Brandywiners
dressed down, and the Rotarians have a booth for something,
and there's cotton candy for sale just like a county fair, 
even though there're no carnival rides or carneys 
to take you for a ride, and this year you can hear Bill Monroe
and the Blue Grass Boys playing as if this were a Kentucky
frolic and you had heard this music all your life, high
and lonesome, Uncle Pen, back porch and barn dance,
and Uncle Swill's Morning Aspirin Show on the local radio
and of course the Grand Ole Opry—and Monroe standing so
tall it's as if he's leaning back as he does that near-sighted
squint from under the brim of his white Stetson offering
up to God and his congregation of weekend sinners
"Muleskinner Blues," his high yodel and mandolin sting,
truly a preachment, then his head bowing in prayer as Brother
Kenny Baker steps forward and the fiddle prays us to our knees.

Tim Hunt's publications include the collections Fault Lines and The Tao of Twang (forthcoming) and the chapbooks Redneck Yoga and Thirteen Ways of Talking to a Blackbird. He has been awarded the Chester H. Jones National Poetry Prize and twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He and his wife Susan live in Normal, Illinois.