Cockatoos

This poem won Honourable mention in the 2011 2-Day Poem Contest

Yes, we've heard their sad repetitions,

the 'pieces of eight', the rote 'Pretty boys',

dropped from tired beaks like peanut shells;

birds bored far beyond the thinning bone.

Compulsive as a handwasher who never

satisfies herself against germy armies

(save her hands are gloved in blood,

and cleansed into gauntlets of agony)

the caged bird will repeat this or that,

sigh, then hear that weird word clever,

thrown at his misery like a charity coin,

a beggar at our table of meaning.

 

But to see them treed, hanging upside-down,

greeting wet wind like a blown umbrella,

yellow winking at sun like a wicked punch-line,

raucous joy a cascade of brassy cunning sax;

this is the true sound of this bossy bright thing.

Why quibble about what they know, or don't?

A screech floats to ground like a metal bird,

cut with tin-shears by a half-blind drunk,

so gratingly loud that ears are near-shorn.

Cockatoos mar the sky with jagged freedom,

as far from a nightingale's sweet treacle

as a sudden mouthful of shattered glass.

Published online June 01 2011.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.


The Open Issue cover image

This piece was published in ‘The Open Issue,’ the Fall 2011 issue of CV2.

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