free verse

During spring break, while wandering through a park in Barcelona, I saw a parrot walking in the grass amongst the many pigeons that one expects to see in a city.  The reason that I took notice of the parrot in particular was that there was a bell around its neck.  This poem was inspired by that parrot.  I do not know if the parrot belonged to anyone in the park or if he had escaped his owner and was wandering wild through the city.  I’d like to think that each morning, his owner ties the bell around his neck so that he doesn’t get trampled in the metro, gives him a euro in case he gets hungry, and sends him out into the world.  Then each night, the parrot comes back to the owner’s apartment to tell of his adventures, the euro spent on gelato (pistachio, of course).  Anyway, enjoy the poem.

Birds of a feather

Parrots are easily lost in crowds,
despite the feathers and the squawking,
and if you don’t realize this profound truth
of parrot ownership and maintenance,
you will foolishly think that your brightly plumaged friend
is safe on your shoulder,
that he would never think to fly off
to pester some cat on a window sill
or settle down in an old woman’s hat
with its ribbons and satin bows and velvet –
would never think that he could want
any other world
than the vast expanse of your left shoulder
under its tweed jackets and wool sweaters.

So don’t be surprised when you come home
to find that he has flown the coop
and has left you with an empty cage
and a streak of white down the left side
of your jacket.
He was, after all, just a bird
you taught to say your name and hello,
and now somewhere he is flying with pigeons
and swooping into the rank gutters
outside of all the city’s fruit stands
and living on rotten raspberries and freedom.

Yes, parrots are easily lost for good.
So clip his wings
and put a bell around his neck,
and he will faithfully follow you through
all the parks on your summer walks,
and you will hear the pleasant tinkling
of his collar as you walk in the sunshine.
The children with the ice cream-smeared faces
will laugh and point as he waddles behind you.
You will never lose him,
and he will never lose himself
to anyone but you.


2 Responses

  1. i reluctantly admit this is an awesome poem. please start writing metrically again so i can set ur poems to music!

    • My free verse stuff is so much better, though! But I suppose that if I ever have inordinate amounts of free time, I could write lyrics for you…

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