Little update

Life has been really good. This is my favorite time of year. Ritalin is still really helping me with positive energy, focus, drive, and calmness. It’s a huge difference. Almost as huge as my first ketamine treatments.

Right now I’m sitting outside with my chickens. There are two left still. We lost another. I’m not sure how much longer these ones have but I’m enjoying them while I can. Please, never buy “meat birds” to eat or for pets. I love them, but we made a mistake. They are bred irresponsibly.

I’m playing guitar and writing a lot. I’m also doing things around the farm. Morning chores have gotten much easier. I am enjoying caring for the animals and even constructing some stuff with Joey! I’m learning and it’s really cool.

I have a chapbook coming out and I’m doing a reading/giveaway over Zoom. Here is the link for the facebook event: .

Well, I can’t think of a whole lot more I want to say at the moment. Been thinking a lot about intentional community and what the future might hold. Been thinking a lot about poetry. Been feeling good.

Ritalin, goats, & new writing

Today I started taking Ritalin. I feel so calm and steady. I’m guessing this confirms that I have ADHD. The first thing that comes to mind is, “I don’t feel like a chicken running around with my head cut off.” Unfortunate idiom, given that I found one of my chickens dead yesterday. That was hard, but we placed her body beneath a tree and adorned her with a bouquet of dandelions. There are 3 of the white chickens left, my favorites.

The land is beautiful here in May. It’s one of my favorite times of year. It feels like a real farm, with all the animals around. A few days ago we brought home three goats. Our puppies will be coming home soon.

I’m taking several writing classes on Zoom right now. It’s really helping me. I’m starting to enjoy the process of writing again, and not just beat myself up that I’m not “producing” enough. I’m taking classes in poetry and creative nonfiction. I’m working on a lot of poems, and in particular, a chap book about chickens. I’d like to get that published or publish it myself. I’m also working on a novel, but that’s very slow going and I want to keep that secret for now as to not curse it. It’s pretty light-hearted though, and a nice change of pace. I also want to put together another collection of personal essays….something sort of between Show Trans and No Poster Boy. I want to weave stories together. I’ve been through so much these past 6-7 years since I published those. I’m ready.

There’s a robin in front of me trying to eat a worm that is too big for it. It’s pretty funny. We also have barn swallows, Canada geese, blue birds, owls, deer…. Feeling good on my new meds, I can see how awesome my life is right now.

I’m gonna post a few poems that I haven’t shared yet. They aren’t formatted with line spacing and returns exactly how I want them, but you get the idea. Hope you enjoy.


Pure Joy

Sometimes the chickens are enough.

The four fat ones tottle out of their coop

to munch on the grass and slurp up worms,

their enormous bodies

almost covering their orange scaly legs and feet.

Like obese dinosaurs

they roam among the dandelions,

running and flapping with pure joy,

or huddling down in the dirt,

rotund bodies pressed together

to wiggle and shake

and throw dirt in the air.

Some lands on me

as I try to keep a straight face

on my Zoom call.

One finds a crunchy June bug

and the others abandon

their demure nature

to peck at her beak

trying to secure a taste.

They buck and groan and chortle

talking amongst each other

between bites of blades of grass

as a mild breeze

blows through the yard

rustling their cream-colored feathers. 


A Poem From My One Rabbit, Beau, to the Other, Theo 

I love you through our cages.

I’ll snuggle with you through the bars.

Though you bite me

and tear at me with your claws.

I still need the warmth

of your body

pressed against mine.


Why We Haven’t Had Sex in Over A Year

I drink a cup of coffee

And immediately ask

“Where is my next cup of coffee?”

Over and over again

With no end

And it’s sad because

Coffee in the morning 

Was our special time together

But I ruined it

With too many caffeinated questions

“When do you think we’ll have coffee again?”

“Was the coffee good for you?”

“Will we drink coffee again tomorrow?”

“Can we have coffee this afternoon?”

“Are you busy or can you have coffee again in 

Ten minutes?”

And when you say you’ve had enough

I pout

Or plead

For this manipulation

You will not stand

So I’m left alone

Bare feet on the cold kitchen floor

And there’s no milk in the refrigerator

So I drink my coffee black

Cup after cup

And it’s bitter

And I don’t even enjoy it.


Walking Uphill in Ithaca

It’s getting dark.

I’m walking up Aurora Street

on the cracked sidewalk

past different colored,

two-story, city houses,

porches with pumpkins, plastic skeletons,

and rainbow flags

and leaf-covered yards

with signs that say, 

“Black Lives Matter”

and “Bernie 2020.” 

As I round the corner

wafting from some student’s bedroom,

the smell comes

and hits me-

I mean really hits me-

with memories.

Giggling marathons of

Star Trek: The Original Series

under our fleece blankets.

The makeshift green and red light shows

we projected on the walls and ceiling,

and great sex 

with Indian music playing

in the dark, in the glow.

The heat of our campfire 

in the summer

in Southern Oregon

beside the RV

and the deep green creek

where we really heard Jimi Hendrix

for the first time

over my bluetooth speaker.

And we joked we would be famous

 as the two guys who just sat there

for eighty years. 

At our spot in the forest

in the hammocks,

conversations about

how humans are the apes

who were kicked out of the trees

as we looked up at the bright green leaves

of the canopy.

Arguments in bed

over whether I’d had enough. 

Then me, threatening to leave

with a packed suitcase

and no jacket

in an Upstate New York blizzard.

The itchy feel 

of the hospital gown and socks.

The cold steel telephone

through which you told me

you couldn’t do it anymore. 

And still, in that smell,

the empty promise of another life

in which I am “chill.” 

So I cover my nose with my soft grey scarf

and keep walking uphill.

3 months later…

Wow, I haven’t written on here since February.

I’m doing…okay. Right now I don’t really even know how to phrase the stuff I’m going thru.

I haven’t gotten the vaccine and I’m pretty down about it. I could go into all the reasons but it basically boils down to: 1.) I don’t trust how it would interact with my autoimmune disorder and 2.) We live in a place where we can isolate. I don’t go anywhere. So the whole family is waiting for now.

But that’s just the problem. I feel so fucking isolated.

I’m also struggling with gender confusion and dysphoria.

I wanted to say more but I don’t know what to say right now.

Maybe I could elaborate on feelings of isolation, or the gender stuff?

Isolation: meh.

Gender stuff: Sometimes/often/currently(?) I feel more like a demigirl than a guy but have no energy/confidence to present that way I want to look more feminine but I don’t know how right now in a way that would be comfortable. This makes me feel further invisible on top of the fact that I barely ever see anybody.

If anyone can recommend places I could find support online, that would be awesome. I’ve been trying to find nonbinary support groups this evening. Waiting for approval from some facebook ones. It feels super awkward to just write about my problems to strangers though. I don’t know.

My writing group also ends in a few weeks and I’m wanting to find a way to continue to be a part of a poetry community. It’s been really critical during this past year.

Anyway, blah blah blah. Maybe I’ll write more later or tomorrow or you know, 3 months from now.

Brief update

I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been depressed the past few weeks and haven’t had much energy for anything. I’m feeling pretty directionless waiting for spring to start planting. I’ve been writing some, especially in my writer’s circle/class.

We had another incident and we lost some chickens. Some more were injured, so we aren’t out of the woods yet, but they seem to be doing well.

Wow, I’m really struggling to come up with anything to say. Otherwise, the past few weeks have been pretty unremarkable. I guess this will just be an entry checking in. Hopefully I’ll have more to report soon.

Chicken Vigil

She was surrounded by soft wood chip bedding as she quietly bled. She was dying. 

“I love you,” we cooed in turn, “We all love you.”

“I love you too,” she cooed back.

Some of us were crying. “Coo coo coo…” we said. “It will be alright, my sister.” 

After she slipped away, we still stood around her in a circle. Huddled close, feathers touching, we comforted one another. We kept vigil, sharing stories of her life. The way she hated leaving the coop on a snowy day. She always trailed behind the rest, muttering complaints. The way she lit up on sunny days, so happy to sunbathe and smile in the morning glow. All night we guarded to make sure she made it safely to the next world. 

In the morning, one of our humans came. He opened the coop door and made soft human sounds. We knew he was sad, too. He loved her. We knew he loved us all. 

He bent down, moving in to lift her body. We weren’t ready, and frantically squawked our protests. He nodded, and backed away. 

That day we were mostly silent. Sometimes we would leave the coop to get food and water, usually one or two at a time. Mostly we stayed in the circle, warmed by our shared body heat. We watched over her and grieved. 

When our human came back, some of us weren’t ready. But the others reassured them it was time. He lifted her body and was momentarily silhouetted by the glow of the light outside the open coop door. And then they were gone. 

We stared for a while, still in silence. A few cried and others sighed mournfully. 

“Let’s get some air,” I said. 

And we all filed out of the coop, one by one into the sunlight. Life goes on.


I’m reading a new book called Healing Trauma by Philip Levine. It has somatic exercises and I’ve started doing them. So far, tapping and squeezing my body and muscles and becoming conscious of them. I am amazed by how well it’s working. My mood is good, and tonight I sat down to play guitar and I felt like a completely different person. I was aware of what I was doing…I could vary the volume and the roughness of my strumming, and I was able to fingerpick with precision. I have to credit this to the exercises. 

I don’t feel all that chatty tonight, but I wanted to note this because it’s a really big deal for me. Mostly, because it means I’m healing from trauma, but also because I’d like to become skilled at guitar. I’ve felt like I was in a rut in both these areas, so I’m excited. 

I think I’ll write more tomorrow. Reminder to self, talk about starting Prososin!

Everything we have forgotten

Written after watching The Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees.

Everything we have forgotten

about the earth

and the trees

is coming home to me.

It was born in me

and lost

in classrooms



I thought about our land

and what it means to me.

And what land once meant

to a people.

And I cried for those

forced from their land

who watched it destroyed

The trauma to the people

the land and the creatures.

I feel dedicated

to do what I can

to plant trees

and restore this small plot of land

And to write

in hopes of inspiring others

to live this way, who can

And maybe one day

We can all live this way


What They Don’t Tell You About Chickens

What They Don’t Tell You About Chickens

By Elliott DeLine

What they don’t tell you about chickens is that you will fall in love with them. Or, more likely, I am among the few who have fallen for these strange and beautiful birds.  People have written poems and odes to all sorts of birds, but I have never read one about chickens. Chickens are grossly underappreciated.

Something else they don’t tell you… is that two small boxes of chicks will result in eventually over a ton of chickens. We picked them up from Moyer’s Chicks in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I sat in the car while Joey put on a mask and went inside. He came back with two peeping boxes of 50 brown egg layers and 20 standard broilers. They were basically indistinguishable at this point, when I snuck to the back of the car to take a peek. They peeped and melted our hearts all the whole way back to Cortland, New York.

Something you should know about me: I love animals. I mean really love. I was obsessed with them as a child, and very little changed as I aged. And not just the more popular, regal animals. I love pigeons, rats, spiders, snakes…pretty much all creatures are loveable in my eyes.

Something else to know: I was a vegetarian from age 14 to 30. Why did I start eating meat again? For two reasons. One, I was around it all the time, as Joey and his son Drew were carnivores. I don’t cook, and it just became simpler to eat what the household was eating. Two, I had a loosening of scruples around the horrors of factory farming.

We brought these chicks home and set up a cardboard home for them in our new garage. They were adorable little fluffs, not even a day old, huddled under the red heat lamp. From the start, I tried not to focus on the 20 broilers. Joey had bought them for meat. That is what broiler means. They are the standard consumed chicken in the U.S. The other 50 chickens were egg-layers. The broilers were a little plumper and lighter in color. I knew this was going to be very, very hard for me. I tried not to look at them from day 1, and definitely take no pictures or videos.

Joey had solid, rational reasons for raising our meat chickens. It would be much more ethical to raise and kill them, humanely. I knew I could have no part in it, but I understood his thinking. Logically, I agreed. Emotionally I was terrified of the day of slaughter and doubted I could eat chickens I helped raise.

It got worse as they grew. The broilers got hard to ignore. They were ridiculous looking, like tiny dinosaurs with pot bellies and sparse feathers. Within a week, they were double the size of the egg layers, earning them the nickname of “the fatties.” The egg layers became “the brownies,” as they turned progressively more brown. The fatties stayed cream-colored.

They kept growing at an alarming rate. We had to separate them out, afraid they would pick on the brownies. However, they were the most docile animals you’d ever meet. They were very friendly. Despite my best, adult intentions, I discovered that they liked to be held. I would go in with them and they would climb into my lap. Joey discovered me like this one day.

“I love you,” I said to the chicken.

Joey says it was then he knew that we could never eat them. And it wasn’t just me and my mental health that he was concerned about. These fatties were too damn loveable. Friendly, unafraid, innocent, and downright sweethearts. The idea was heartbreaking. It just felt wrong. 

The fatties kept growing. The brownies, too, to a lesser degree. The latter were much more curious and also more skittish. More wild We decided it was time to make them all a small coop and bring them outside sometimes. No sooner had we gotten it all set up when unexpected rain and wind took us over. We rushed out to save them. They were getting soaked, which was not good.

I climbed inside the small coop and started scooping out chicks by the half dozen. I tossed them into plastic bins so we could transport them back to the garage. We managed to get them all back, but they were soaked. We set up additional heat lamps and warmed up some water bottles for them to cuddle. One chick was particularly struggling, so I held her in my hands and to my body, breathing warm air onto her.

Surprisingly, there was only one death. Several days later I came out to the garage and saw that one was lying down, unmoving, on her side. I called Joey and asked where he suggested I bury her. He suggested it would be nicer to leave her body in the woods to be consumed by a wild animal, so her death had purpose. I agreed.

I walked across our new land to the eastern woods. I laid her down on a bed of moss, and put some stones and flowers around her. I cried. But I also felt this incredible connection to the land, the earth, and to life. I envy people who are spiritual, because I have trouble accessing this part of me as much as I’d like. It seems very comforting. But as I walked back home among the trees and the setting sun, I felt a true sense of infinity and beauty.

Joey had been building a shed that summer to house our goats, but then the deal fell through. We decided it was time to move the chickens there. It’s hard to believe they all still fit with just a couple wagon trips! I have a hilarious picture of all 20 of the adolescent fatties sitting together in the black wagon. I really treasure that memory.

The two breeds of chickens did not get along well though, so Joey built a moveable coop for the fatties. It was neat, because we moved it each day with the tractor and they got to munch on different areas of grass. It had a trap door of sorts that turned into a staircase to the upper bunk where they slept. This door still haunts me.

The fatties, stubborn and fat, would not climb up the ladder, so we had to lift them up into their bunk in the evening. They were about 10 lbs at this point, and still growing, so this was no easy task. We are talking about lifting 200 lbs of chicken every evening!  They would squawk and fuss and the whole scene was ridiculous. Every night we got a good laugh, and we both came to really love these animals. We loved the brownies too, but the fatties were so full of personality and humor.

One September evening we were putting the fatties away and things got hectic. I had forgotten to put up the ladder and some were escaping back down after we put them up for the night. As mentioned, lifting them was no small task. Stressed, I hurriedly pulled the string to close the ladder-door. The next part still makes my stomach turn.

I heard a distressed squawk and felt something in the way, but it was too late. I dropped the string, and her body fell out. Her neck was severed and there was a lot of blood. She was still moving.

“No!” I screamed. “No, no, no!” I don’t remember much else. Joey says I kept screaming. I ran about a yard away and curled up in child’s pose on the grass. I covered my ears and shut my eyes tight and kept saying “no,” as if this could somehow block out the truth. I sobbed and sobbed.

After what seemed like hours Joey returned to my side. He reassured me that it wasn’t my fault, and it was an accident that could have happened to anyone. He also told me she was dead immediately. She was only moving because, well, the old saying about a chicken with her head cut off, right? I was so relieved she didn’t suffer.

I struggled a lot after that. It took a little while before I could go out to the coop without feeling dizzy. I cried a lot. Like I said, I really love animals. And these chickens had become family. Eventually though, I started to accept what happened and heal. There were still 19 fatties to care for.

And then, tragedy struck again. First, it was a brownie who somehow stayed out over night. We found her body with the throat ripped out- a clear calling card of the mink. Joey felt the weight of blame that time and I had to reassure him.

A few days later, one of the fatties had simply gotten too fat. They weren’t designed to live long: just to produce a lot of meat. Her leg had broken from the weight of her body. Joey had to put her down. He’s still really shaken about it to this day. He said he wasn’t expecting it to be so hard, but that he could never slaughter animals for meat.

What was amazing that say was the flock. One chicken clearly was close with the injured one. She sat beside her, leaning, making comforting noises. The rest all gathered around, solemn, knowingly. It was moving. I once again felt spiritually touched.

But the true horror happened the night that the mink got into the shed.

I remember hearing Joey downstairs around 5 am, which is early for him. I got up.

“Hey, is everything alright?” I asked.

“I heard noises coming from the coop,” he said, “I’m gonna go check on it. Can I use your phone’s flashlight?”

I went to the bathroom and checked on my rabbits. When I came back out into the kitchen, he was back. “Everything alright?” I asked, nonchalant.

“It’s….not good,” he said.

I felt the earth slipping out from under me. “What? What happened?”

“A mink got inside….the door is warped.”

“I should have noticed….”

“It’s ok, it’s not easy to see. I had a feeling….I should have been checking it.”

“Are they dead? How many?”

“Over half are dead.”

I collapsed on the couch sobbing.

“I’m so sorry sweetie,” Joey kept saying, rubbing my back. He was the hero that day. He cleaned up the mess….all the dead fatties, he carried to a hidden spot in the woods. He said it was horrible. The other chickens were attacking him, including the rooster. They didn’t want him to take them. Unfortunately, there was also one that was not quite dead that he had to put down. This was awful for him. He didn’t tell me at first, but he needed to confide in me eventually. I understood.

It took a long time to heal after that. The six remaining chickens were clearly traumatized. You could see it in their eyes. One would refuse to go to bed, searching and calling for her dead friend. This killed me to watch. I tried to pet them and comfort them though…they were still unbelievably friendly. We all got through it. And I feel an even more special bond with the Big 6.

Those six remain, along with the brownies. I don’t know how long we’ll have together. They weren’t bred to live long, only to be meaty and easy to kill. I think this is cruel, and we’d never buy them again. They’ve obviously been uncomfortable and awkward at moving all their lives.

We’ve both been vegetarian again. I’m not sure it’s permanent. I think it is for me.

I’m sure we will have many farm animals…but nothing will be quite like the fatties. Maybe this sounds trite, but  I’ve learned a lot about myself. A lot about my soul. And I look forward to everyday I get to spend with these lovely creatures.

I guess what they don’t tell you about chickens is they will also break your heart. But for me, I guess it’s worth it.

Love is always worth it.

Trees, old photos, celebrations, and more.

Here is a blub I wrote during my timed writing assignment at my writing circle.

We are waiting for spring to plant trees. Joey ordered over $1,000 worth. Plums, apples, pears and more exotic fruits of which I forget the names. We also ordered regular trees from the DEC’s yearly sale. Basically we will be planting many, many trees.

I like to imagine my future life as a tree planter. I imagine my arms will get stronger from digging and hauling dirt. I will probably be covered in dirt a lot, so I’ll have to wear outfits i don’t mind getting dirty.

Another thing we are waiting to do is plant crops. It will be tangible physical work and I like that. It seems more natural and human than other jobs I’ve had, such as sitting behind a computer or sorting things in a warehouse.

I’ve been nervous about spring- worried I won’t be good enough, or that I’ll lose my enthusiasm. But now, writing this, I’m feeling excited. There will be sunlight again and we’ll be out in it often.

Another project will be building the rabbit hutch and enclosure. This has been making me nervous because I want to be absolutely sure it’s secure from predators. I also worry I won’t be any help with the construction and will hate the work and just get in the way. I’ve never built something before.

Still, why the defeatist attitude? This will be a chance to learn something new. And it will be a new experience to write about.

I wrote this one looking at a picture of me from 5 years

Too skinny and pale, bespectacled boy, reading in the Mission, San Francisco Queer Open Mic. A trans boy voice, that was my shtick. Gay, also: that was the kicker! What an ass! What powerful words! Glory be the trans boy writer in his Levis and black sweater with his perfectly styled pompadour. Looks like he belongs in a poster of an 80’s new wave band. James Dean vibes. Who is he? So sad and serious, so lost and mysterious! Who is that boy?

I wrote this one tonight at the writers’ circle.

When the danger passed… some met their shadows. Some were greeted with fresh air. But all were forever changed. They gathered and had nights of feasts and dancing. People strummed guitars and beat on drums. Someone played a flute. They had roaring bonfires at night, and around them, they kissed and embraced and snuggled up with one another. Nothing like this had happened before the danger.

But some did meet their shadows. They were solemn, unable to join in the festivities. I was one of them. Maybe it was the sudden change, after all that time alone. I couldn’t throw myself into it. I still felt like I was grieving. Grieving something which, at the core, I was glad to be free. Like the death of an abusive parent. But still, I was mourning.

By the third day, as the others were starting to tire, I was hit with waves of joy. The freedom became real! The music was more relaxed and quiet, but that suited me fine. Often times I just sang to myself. The bonfires got smaller, but more intimate. We shared poetry by ourselves and others, and dreamed up a new world now that the danger had passed.

And here is one last blurb taken from a blurb I wrote this evening. Writing to Heal is the name of the writing class.

Can writing help me to heal? I don’t doubt that it helped people like Maya Angelou. It’s helped me in the past. Just right now I need to keep my writing and art kind of light. Not shallow or glib, but not dark and heart-wrenching, for my mental health. Maybe “writing to heal” doesnt’ have to mean writing about trauma. Maybe there is something inherently soothing and healing in just writing about life. Yes, I like that thought.

“Elliott DeLine’s work in the 2020’s was positive and full of hope. He often alluded to times of great pain, but did not dwell.” Ha…

Art-stress, and a poem about nature

Aw man, tonight I’m not feeling great. I made a self-portrait and it seems to have really messed me up. I feel agitated….really on edge and spacey. I did it in my old style I used to in high school. I guess it just took me back to that time in my life. I wasn’t thinking about it while I was working, I was just sort of in a trance for hours. It’s a really good piece too. I wish I could just feel good about it.

It’s been really frustrating lately that creativity triggers me. Joey suggested that maybe I draw nature and not people if I’m going to do black and white pencil drawings. I do want to make some art of nature, but I want to be able to do all kinds of things. It’s frustrating. I really have to watch out for my mental health though.

I want to take another writing course that will help me hopefully write some short stories. I’m worried about this though, too. Can I no longer do any art that has a dark side to it? I don’t want everything I make to be light and positive. Do I? I mean, it’s a valid question. What is the point of making art that doesn’t feel good? Does it serve a higher function? Or bring a deeper satisfaction long term? I dunno.

Can I write happy short stories? I guess. It’s interesting that it seems shallow for some reason. That seems like an immature outlook, of the suffering artist. I just want to be able to express a range of things in my work. Hmm…

Well, I don’t have to figure it all out at once. What I discovered tonight is that doing portraits in my old high school style probably isn’t healthy for me right now. It doesn’t mean I have to stick with light subject matter forever. I just need to be careful of this. I think I’m going to have to develop new styles, which is actually exciting.

I’m writing this all largely in an attempt to calm myself down. I want to go to bed pretty soon, because I go to bed pretty early and wake up around 5 am. I slept a lot today though. I’m trying to just apply some self love and forgiveness. Here, also, is a new poem about nature. Typing that out will calm me down.

In The Early January Light

In the early January light

yellow-white sun with an orange halo

the song of the cardinal

Blue shadows around snowy foot tracks

mostly human

A trail of paw prints

leading across the frozen pond

to the island

where a fox beds down in the tall grasses

Spots along the bank 

where the snow is dug up

from the deer, eating the grass

The wind whistles low in my ears

I have cold hands

and the world seems just a little bit


Tree-covered hills in the distance


while the trees in the foreground

appear almost black

Four crows

cut across that grey expanse

beneath the white-yellow orb

and the encroaching clouds.