The bird is just a free giveaway toy,
He explained as he touched up my paintjob
With green and gray felt tip marker pens,
From a corporation marketing campaign.
There's a little ten cent chip in there.
They're only programmed for a few lines,
Probably just a promotional jingle,
But it might be a collectible some day.
I did not make haste to correct the man,
Although correction is my raison d'etre.
I, who have corrected an entire nation,
Who have erased and rewritten the future,
Who have wearied heaven with acid complaints,
Who have railed down the supermarket aisles
For hour after hour, day after day,
Against overpriced tomatoes and fruit,
Against cashiers who short-change you a dime,
Against data-mining loyalty cards,
I, who God made spring-loaded to pounce,
Bit my tongue and let error slip by.
From that day forward I sat there mute,
Never speaking one word to my captor,
Except for once or twice to blurt a curse
Or to rasp out a static-scratched cackle,
And he had no way of knowing that the lies
He delivered so earnestly to Armand
Possessed an unintended accuracy.
And why should I do him any favours
By showing him those meanings that elude him?
Let those with eyes see and with ears hear.
All others, blind and deaf, can just rot
Or hire, from yellow pages, an exegete.
It looks like a cheap plastic toy bird
That someone tried to flush down the john.
Are you telling me it can talk? said Armand.
It has a holographic memory bank
Of virtually infinite capacity,
And will never tell the same story twice.
It is completely portable, without wires,
Operating from two small batteries
That need be replaced only once a year.
It's entirely encased in sturdy plastic,
Stain proof, shock proof, dishwasher safe.
When new it ordinarily retails
For ninety-nine ninety-five plus tax.
For the instruction books in three languages,
Two almost new penlight batteries,
A handsome leatherette traveling case,
And of course the electric parrot itself,
I will ask only ten squinting quinties.
What? Ten gold coins for a mere parrot?
The pawnbroker now turned my current on.
Thus alerted, my dormant power surged,
Flooded deadened circuits with hornet hum,
And the hive's pent-up rage rose from sleep,
Moved from standby mode to active flight
And swarmed forth in stinging counter-attack.
A mere parrot, I cried, a mere parrot?
My illustrious lineage, mere human,
Should be plain from the heraldry of my plumage.
Am I not an egg of great Harifarman,
Of whom you'll almost certainly have heard?
Was not my hatching an auspicious occasion
Celebrated in the astral altitudes
By an unprecedented full conjunction
Of Saturn and the star Beta Orionis?
Well, you've got me there, remarked Armand.
You never encounter on most store shelves
Such a strange and ungainly invention.
Liber Jonae Contents