The Fox and the American Chickens

      A fox signaled apocalypse
to turkeys who sought roost and refuge in a tree.
The rogue roved the ramparts around their acropolis
       and, seeing each bird stand sentry,
cried out: who are these folk who dare make me look dense!
Give me one reason to show them jurisprudence!
No way! Heaven forbid! He would get the job done
in spite of a full moon that up till then had shone
its favour on the turkeys more than on Your Liege.
           Being no novice to the art of laying siege,
the fox dug deep into his bag of blackguard tricks.
First he feigned climbing, then strapped his legs to sticks;
for a while he simulated death, then bounced right back.
           Houdini himself couldn’t hack
           half the outfits he went through.

He backed up his derrière, set his tail ablaze,
           one of hundreds of circus coups.
Meanwhile, not one bird plucked the courage up to
the enemy fox wore them down keeping their focus
           on his constant hocus pocus.
The poor pluckers, in due course, fell into a stupor,
and dropped down one by one. The fox proved a trooper.
     He fell to each one till near half the troupe lay slain,
whereupon he dragged them to his winter storage bins.
Too much attention paid to all the danger signs
           and we get what we have coming.


Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) was the most famous French poet of the 17th century. Dedicated to the Dauphin, his fables attributed human motivation and discourse to a vast menagerie of animals, a trope that continues to delight and instruct young and adult alike. La Fontaine shied neither from satirizing the foibles of the human condition nor from undermining the power of the oligarchy.

Aidan Rooney is a native of Monaghan, Ireland, and a resident in the U.S. since 1987. He teaches at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts. Awarded the Hennessy Literary Award for New Irish Poet in 1997, his collections, Day Release (2000) and Tightrope (2007), are published by The Gallery Press. In 2013, he was awarded the Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Club. A new collection, Safe Home, is forthcoming.