Parliament by Carol Ann Duffy

List poems are often oddly poignant – the mere fact of noticing so often touches me.

Poem as Totem

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Then in the writers’ wood,

every bird with a name in the world

crowded the leafless trees,

took its turn to whistle or croak.

An owl grieved in an oak.

A magpie mocked. A rook

cursed from a sycamore.

The cormorant spoke:

Stinking seas

below ill winds. Nothing swims.

A vast plastic soup, thousand miles

wide as long, of petroleum crap.

A bird of paradise wept in a willow.

The jewel of a hummingbird shrilled

on the air.

A stork shawled itself like a widow.

The gull said:

Where coral was red, now white, dead

under stunned waters.

The language of fish

cut out at the root.

Mute oceans. Oil like a gag

on the Gulf of Mexico.

A woodpecker heckled.

A vulture picked at its own breast.

Thrice from the cockerel, as ever.

The macaw squawked:

Nouns I know –

Rain. Forest. Fire. Ash.

Chainsaw. Cattle. Cocaine. Cash.

Squatters…

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