little red hen inc.

let me tell you ‘bout the little red hen / she knew her way round the farm and back again / when to run & when to relax / the sharp rain & the sharper axe / the narrow margins on milk & eggs / the tractor monsters beyond the hedge / anyway / one day / she scratched up some grains of wheat / and instead of just laying on with her beak to eat / she packed ‘em up neat / & took them to / the rest of the raggedy farmyard crew / namely a dog, a cat / a mouse & a rat / all ducked out suspiciously in a line like that / so / y’know / true / an unlikely combo / but – see – the farm had always been a little absurd / the lines between the animals blurred / anyway / this particular day / LRH flaps up on a stanchion / and the gang of four I previously mentioned / stood together with apprehension / (y’see – she had a certain reputation / for poultry flights of imagination) / Who will help me plant this lil’ ol’ mess o’seed? / she said / with a beaky smile & shake of the head / not I said the dog & the cat / not I said the mouse & the rat / well shit on you, she said / stuffed it back in her pocket instead / I’ll do it myself she swore / and dropped down lightly onto the floor

and so she did

well my god – such dusty dedication / daily feeds & fancy irrigation / until one day she saw with pleasure / how far it stretched on her retractable measure / so back she went to the mangy quartet / to see if they’d shifted their stance yet / not I said the dog & the cat / not I said the mouse & the whatever / well – that plucky bird she gave them the feather / kicked off back to her corner / spent an egg-bustin’ week / scything the corn into heaps with her beak / threshing the grain with a rusty bedspring / brushing it together with her wings and things / and it was only after she’d crooked her back / filling a mess o’hessian sacks / that she took herself back to the barnyard chapel / to see about some venture capital

(oh…kay said the duck with a cynical quack
I wish you the best of luck with that)

so then what the hen needed to know / was where she could bake her batches of dough / no way was she going to the farmhouse kitchen / the farmer always bitching / & moaning about all the criminals / & crazy animals / no better than cannibals / the sheep in some kind of woolly cooperative / the pigs openly combative / the geese coquettish / the donkey with a wiccan flower fetish / so he spent his time / checking land prices online / dreaming of the moment / he could quit this torment / and live in Greece or Spain or somewhere hot / basically anywhere the animals were not / so it was lucky the hen was a bird of utility / able to source her own facility / & eventually / when the bread was done and dusted / and the production schedules busted / LRH packed her ciabatta / branded with high-end promotional matter / an artisanal label / the LRH gesturing with a wing to a table / as if to say / look at this wonderful display / fresh to you today / and her order books grew / and the products fairly flew

and so did she

and the dog, the cat, the mouse & the rat? / she put them all in blue net hats / employing them in a productive capacity / in her burgeoning baked goods industry / the sparrows / of the hedgerows / she used to seed the artisanal loaves / while the doves / from the dovecote / working to a strict but flock friendly rota / far exceeded the daily quota / loading the little vans / that were driven by a dozen little red hens / each a personal friend / who had eagerly bought into the venture / & a heap o’creatures too numerous to mention / until everything was progressing according to schedule / and the Little Red Hen was given a medal / Awarded in Recognition of Entrepreneurial Endeavours / and a badger hung it over her beautiful feathers / while everyone applauded / (even the dog, the cat, the mouse & the rat did) / and the farmer Skyped from Faro / saying he was due back tomorrow / to give her advice on tax evasion / but wished her the best on this happy occasion / and the Little Red Hen went back to her perch / to watch as the sun set behind the church / and dreamed about spreadsheets, losses & gains / grown from just a few scattered grains / a gizzard of self-belief and a sharp business brain / and she settled down to roost / wondering how to give it a boost

and so she did

so the next day she called an extraordinary meeting / the pigs grunting and the sheep bleating / the farmer grinning by satellite link / from a laptop propped on an upturned sink / next to a well-dressed fox / paws up on a box / who the doves were sure they recognised / from some corporate scandal televised / I want to thank you for everything you’ve done / said the little red hen / when the meeting began / You’ve all worked so hard and that’s fantastic / you’re perfectly loyal & wonderfully enthusiastic / But the time has come for bigger things / for the LRH to spread its wings / So I’m very happy to say / I’ve asked to speak to you today / Sir Reynard Fox of Fox Incorporated / who’ll be taking the reins of the family we’ve created / and me? I’ll be staying on in an executive role / whilst I move out into the wider business world / utter silence from the floor / then a creaking from the old barn door / as the dog, the cat, the mouse & the rat / muttering bitterly snuck out back / just as Reynard Fox stood up to speak / and the Little Red Hen clucked her beak / and smiling widely preened her feathers / dreaming of blue skies and better weather / of personal assistants / a portfolio of investments / offshore identities / and other supranational amenities / maybe a penthouse hen house / in the Philippines or somewhere else / (the farmer was advising her / he was sending brochures) / and she felt herself changing from a Little Red Hen / to a Fowl of the World and back again

and so she did