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2 poems by Peter Scalpello


Most people aren't aware of this, but

it helps to have a parrot in the room.

Living with the bird has lightened me,

phrases repeated I don't remember saying

aloud. It is a dialogue with self that hangs

on an archive of utterance.

In this way language becomes a paradox.

I call the bird Quin, neither of us

knowing what they'd call themselves.

Their plumage the pastel tones of gender

and duality. That's pink and blue, supposedly.

Quin isn't your regular domestic aviator.

In fact they were born in open country, Australia.

We live together now and all because I was

on the dark web that time looking for drugs.

Those hues.

I let them peck at me to feel something

similar, like consenting to destiny.

Strip me of agency and all that’s left is feeling.

As a five-year-old learning to ride a bike,

the first thing I did was throw myself

from the little turquoise handlebars, deliberately

to the ground. When my mother asked why I did it

I told her, to know how bad falling could be

so I didn’t have to worry about it any more.

I do not hold the memory of this

first-hand, rather the vision of her reminiscence

is planted history, a metaphysical

inheritance. Its recall forms fantasy

nostalgia. Memory squared.

At the centre of me is my mother.

A strange transference over time, to become

my figurative passenger. Like epigenetics,

we keep each other safe.

A tether all the same.

Self-Portrait with Trichotillomania


Peter Scalpello is a queer poet from Glasgow, currently living in London. His work has been published internationally. His debut pamphlets were published by Broken Sleep Books in March 2021. Tweets @p_scalpello.


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