Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing Down the Angst: A Chicken's Great Escape

Yes, this is a dead chicken.

I love my little Nikon Coolpix camera. It slips into my pocket and I can carry it everywhere with barely a bother. This allows me to take quick snapshots of life as it is lived and later I find the images instructive when I'm ruminating about how things are going, generally.

Take this dead chicken. Where I live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, they raise a lot of chickens. Tyson and Perdue have big chicken processing plants here and there are lots of chicken farmers to supply them with fresh,  young chicken, as the advertisement goes.

You often pass one of their trucks, loaded with cages of chickens, going to the slaughter. Or worse, you get stuck behind one and get to watch the poor creatures stuffed into their small spaces, eyes glaring, their dirty feathers fluttering in the wind. It always reminds me of the day forty-five years ago, when I was shipped off to Army basic training at the height of the Viet Nam War. Oh, the sorrow, the remorse, the feeling of helplessness, the sense of doom. Every time I see one of those trucks, I consider the merits of both pacifisim and vegetarianism.

And then, every so often, you see this. One of them, somehow, escapes. But how? The cages are stacked up, chockablock, the space between the bars must be too small for them to slip through or they'd all be out. Imagine that.

No, how this one gained it's freedom will remain a mystery. Did it see an opportunity and seize it in the best tradition of escapees? Did it bribe a guard? Did it peck off the lock and then try to convince its cell mates to make a break with him and finally have go it alone? Was this one of those extremely rare chickens gifted with brains and daring?

In any event, chickens can't fly and the heady, desperate feeling of freedom did not last long for this fryer leaving me to spend the next few miles wallowing in existential angst and contemplating the true meaning of freedom, life, and death, etc.

But let's leave this on a positive note. Here, to counteract that sense of doom, are a couple a pure white Morning Glory moon blossoms that were growing in my garden the same morning that I encountered the chicken. Come to think of it, these lovely blooms only last for a short time, too. Oh, the angst, the angst.

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