In competition with the music
belting from the party next door
the channel-billed cuckoo falls,
uncharacteristically, silent. Its red eyes glint
from the tree tops like holly berries.
The channel-billed cuckoo is the enemy of sleep.
A brood parasite, normally it transmits
its single electronic note like an erratic pulse
on a cardiac monitor, the last signal from a polar
submarine, growing in urgency, or else it plays
one obsessive, amplified key all night.
That is to say – all night. What must
the other sleep-deprived birds think?
Maybe it needs to get out of the nest more,
or rather out of someone else’s nest,
like an unwelcome interloper
who will not leave, no matter
how late it gets; who drinks all the beer
dances too wildly, who night
after night asks to crash on the couch
The Channel-billed Cuckoo
1 June 2013