Dorothy Bittner
Dorothy Elizabeth Bittner
Between Rocks
and Shadows

"These poems are candid, moving, and quick-witted. They belong to a tradition of confessional/narrative poems, but there's a truly unique sensibility here--voices that seem conjured out of music and empathy, full of dark humor and beauty. More than anything, I felt I had gotten to know the poet in these poems, or the poet's stand-ins, because of the real commitment this writer made to going as far as possible into the portals opened by the poems."

Laura Kasischke, author of The Life Before Her Eyes

Dorothy Bittner is a 2008 graduate of Wells College where she studied creative writing, with a focus on poetry. While at Wells, she was the recipient of The Catherine De Pau Prize in Poetry, The Class of 1905 Prize in Poetry, The M. Helena Zachos Prize in Fiction, and The Phoenix Society Prize in Poetry. She lives and works on Martha's Vineyard, where she writes bawdy poetry for a well known island haunt.

From the book:


The back of the truck was filled with crates.
The crates were filled with chickens. The old man, reeking
of sweat and whiskey, thrust his hands
into the crates and emerged with two chickens
in each hand. They squawked, and fought, beating
the man's grimy arms and belly, shooting
feathers in all directions. He crammed
the birds into silver cones, heads down.
He took a knife from a bucket of soapy water
mixed with Clorox, and, with a quick twist
of the wrist, slit their snow white throats.

The air was hot and thick, only 10 AM.
The sweet-sick smell of blood rising from the tub
set beneath the cones attracted flies by the thousands.
The old drunk watched the blood coursing from the chickens,
four thick, red streams spattering and staining
the white tarp behind them.
The half-severed heads dangling, beaks open
tongues curled backward, spasmed
as networks of brain tissue ignited for the last time.
He pulled the bodies -
 a mess of white feathers, broken wings, and blood -
from the cones and plunged them into a bath
of boiling water, wiping his sticky hands
across his belly and taking a long swig
from a Pepsi bottle filled with gin.

The white bodies bobbed for a moment,
and the man transported them to the steel plucking machine.
Standing in the filthy barnyard, it looked like an implement
from the Inquisition. With a flick of a switch
the contraption sprang alive, spinning wildly,
mad thumps and bumps sounding
like sneakers in a dryer. Wet feathers clumped
from the bottom and fell in a perfect circle
to the ground.

I turned the machine off.
I did not want to look inside.     

Between Rocks and Shadows
is a 28 page hand-stitched chapbook.

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