Poetry and Sexing Chicks

So it’s National Poetry Month, and I can’t help but consider one of my favorite moments on Dirty Jobs. It occurred in Webster City Iowa, in the course of sexing chickens.

If you haven’t sexed chickens before, it’s a fairly straight-forward process wherein the boy chicks are separated from the girl chicks. This is accomplished by holding each chick over an empty coffee can and squeezing it till all the poop flies out. Only then, can The Chick Sexer safely peer into the creatures rectum to determine it’s gender, based on the presence (or absence,) of a tiny penis inside the anus.

Naturally, I was familiar with the cloaca – the common chamber in certain vertebrates into which the intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts converge. I also knew it meant “sewer” in Latin. But until that moment, I’d never really pondered the many advantages of having my own sexual organs located outside of my anus. Frankly – from a design standpoint – I’d like to see even more space between the two, but I’m not complaining. I’m just glad I don’t have a cloaca, and I suspect I’m not alone.

Anyway, these and other thoughts flashed through my brain as I stared into countless chicken rectums, searching for something pithy to share with the viewers. Naturally, Discovery was not going to allow an extended rumination on the space between my phallus and my anus, so I relied instead upon a few lines by the great W.B.Yeats, that summed up my thoughts on the matter.

`A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.’

When Dirty Jobs was at it’s best, it juxtaposed the sublime and the ridiculous, the puerile and the poetic. It’s a glorious thing, to quote your favorite poet while squeezing the poop from unsuspecting chickens. Now, at the beginning of another National Poetry Month, I wish the same kind of serendipitous juxtapositions for all of you.


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