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Poem of the week: Squawks and Speech by Ian Gregson

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Peter is dead it is up to his abandoned parrot to detail his absence in a narrative of fits, starts and circles

This week's poem, Squawks and Speech by Ian Gregson, is a vivid and disconcerting narrative from his 2008 collection, How We Met, and appears in the first of three sections, entitled Sideways at the War. As the neighbouring poems attest, war is defined in the widest metaphorical sense of social fracture and fragmentation. War includes the city's chaos, the loss of human connection and the dislocated individual consciousness.

The protagonist, Peter, seems to have died suddenly at home. We're told few details about him, but enough to piece together a basic outline. We know he's affluent and sophisticated enough to own a futon and an exotic bird. The map left open on the table suggests he might have been anticipating a journey. When the poem begins, he has already been dead, or possibly comatose, for some time, and as it continues, the extent of his isolation becomes clear. The only witness, apart from the narrator, is Peter's parrot.

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