Perks of prosody: hurtful memes
are hidden in images and innov-
ative wordplay. It’s no longer
embonpoint or porcine. In my
head I’m not fit to be seen: this
fusillade of feelings continue
to swell as I do nothing except
the occasional mop up.

Sanjeev Sethi

Kiwi the parrot

When a friend of mine leaves town for a vacation,
a couple of times a year,
he brings his parrot into my house.

Babysitting somebody else’s pet earns no reward:
as a proxy I am only tolerated, not loved.

Yet the bird begs for attention
so I speak to it, it squawks at me – to the end of its stay
we get close to what may pass for a mutual understanding.

When my friend comes to get the parrot back
I am almost jealous watching how happy it is:
nodding, dancing on the perch, spreading wings…

It takes a few minutes to clean the room afterwards.
Everything gone: the cage, the jar with food,
the small bottle with vitamins, the plastic bag with toys,
the cloth for covering the cage at night.

Sleep-sleep-sleep, Kiwi murmurs softly.

Boris Kokotov