Okay: so now I get to live to be 118 to 135 years old.
This is because there is now a cockatoo in this household.
Currently, the bird, a toddler. Somewhere between one and two years old.
And, such birds, they commonly live for 60 to 75 years. And they bond. These birds. Intensely. So she—the bird—expects me to live as long as she will. And, if I don’t, it’s a betrayal.
I never, previously, in all my long and wandering life, had any interest, at all, in what they call, in the trade, “big birds.”
Intellectually, I was sporadically—many years between the sporads—amused by the idea of parrots who live to be 200-300 years old.
Who—or so it was said—would recite words from out of Ben Franklin’s mouth, a couple centuries onward.
And even this, I know now, was occasioned—like far too much in my life—only by the obviously raving lying words of the serial lie-spewer Hunter S. Thompson.
Who, in his tome Generation Of Swine, mendaciously wrote:
Reagan is older than most parrots, which can live about 200 years.
My friend Cromwell, down the road, has a huge mottled green bird that still squawks “Off with their heads,” a dim memory from the time of Madame Defarge and the madness of the French Revolution. The filthy, ageless animal was hatched in the slums of Paris and came over on a boat with a servant who was indentured, at the time, to Benjamin Franklin.
It is weird to stare into the crazy black eyes of a savage yet well-spoken old bird who can remember snatches of conversation between Ben Franklin and Aaron Burr, and sometimes even George Washington. You never know for sure, with these beasts, but lying is not in their nature and most smart people take them seriously. When the thing starts screeching and babbling about a thunderstorm over the Hudson River on Wednesday night in 1788, it is probably telling the truth.
Nobody knows what it means. Old Ben had a queer sense of humor, but he definitely understood the weather. Thomas Jefferson kept ferrets, which gnawed on his body at night, and eventually poisoned his blood.
Intellectually, I am in absolutely no doubt that all of Thompson’s musings here on parrots are pure balderdash, of the same unadulterated horseshit as his inspired hallucination of ferrets poisoning Jefferson’s blood.
I can, for sure, these days, recognize such “lying” Wrongness, for I have, and many times, engaged in such Thompsonesque raving lying, myself.
When I considered it necessary, to get across the Truth.
To stretch understanding into what Werner Herzog precisely terms “ecstatic truth”:
There is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.
And that is why, at this moment, I am sitting here—I, ridiculous—with this supremely satisfied cockatoo on my shoulder: serene, happy, calmly preening herself.
Because I, in ecstatic truth, “lied” myself, right into her life.
When I first met her, she cried every day like a baby. Because that’s what she was.
She’d had—like all the hurt hardest farthest people—a rough start.
There’d been a hole inadvertently burned in her crop—food too hot in a feeding—and so she needed to be fed every two hours, and only on soft baby food. The owner of the feed-and-pet store, satanically located right across the street from me, nonetheless a wonderful woman, who for decades had recurrently hand-raised these big birds, so they’d be socialized, friendly, for their future people, she had to leave off caring for her, the wee bird, because her own partner, her husband, had been taken by a cancer. It was he she needed to tend.
So her assistant managers next took on the job. And, with them, this bird learned to always be cuddling with a person. Always in contact. That’s what she Learned was Normal.
Until she had grown and recovered enough, and so went into a store cage; and, making matters worse, was no longer fed solely on the baby food.
And so, from her, from that moment on—the exile into the cage, the removal of the favored food—there was, constant, a Complaint.
Which is where she caught my eye, and ear, and heart. That’s when I met her. In the Complaint.
Because I am a sucker, on this planet, for heart-felt crying sounds of Complaint.
So she directly got my attention. In calling, so pitifully, for the baby food. As the store-people were striving mightily to wean her off it. I couldn’t give it to her. Though I wanted to. But I couldn’t. Because I was not of the store people. But she vibed that I would. If I could. Give it to her. The baby food. The Love.
And so, even after she left off begging the store people, in her special screeching-dying-bird-dinosaur strangling baby noise, for the baby food, she’d lay it on me. That I should feed her. What she wanted. And needed. The baby-food. The Love.
I was seeing her every day now. Because there was something about her.
Beyond the baby-food. There was something about her.
This demonic hellbroth of a store had sucked me into coming into the place the previous Halloween when in a raffle they’d decided I “won” a terrarium. Which meant I had to put something in the terrarium. So, I subsequently bought, from them, a bearded dragon. Which meant I had to go their place every day to buy for the dragon crickets to devour. And, to get to the crickets, I had to go to the room where the bird was. So I saw her. Every day. And she saw me.
And shortly after—after months and months—she’d at last given up on the baby-food noise, I was standing there talking to the bird, through the bars, when a demonic store-woman popped the latch to the cage, and said, “here, take her around.”
Cage-door opened, the bird walked upon my hand, and from there crawled up my arm to my shoulder. And we then proceeded to promenade. All about the store. A disturbed old/young couple.
And promenade, so did we, every day, about the store, every day, for the next six months.
I suppose it was rude. Presumptuous. That every day I would go in there and pop the latch to her cage and take her out and stride round with her. But since that first store-woman had given me the okay, that one day, I figured on every day it was okay. And nobody there every said it was Wrong.
I’d look forward to seeing her, each day. And she’d look forward to seeing me, too.
We kinda had a crush. She and I. On one another.
But we could never be together. Not for good. Because I would have to “buy” her. And her “price” was insane. At least for a person in the place of me. Especially, me, trying, belatedly, to become frugal. Recognizing the autumn of life. And—trying—to at least think about putting aside money for stuff like doctors and operations and stretcher beds. And her price was insane. Even for “big birds.” Elevated beyond even the usual insanity level because she be a mix of “umbrella cockatoo” (pretty much universally regarded as an animal kept only by the insane), and an “eleanora cockatoo” (which was only recently recognized as a subspecies, when spotted in a zoo), and such mixes—I guess they doan wanna much fuck one another—are generally impossible to achieve.
There was no way I could sanely justify a purchase of this person.
Despite the fact that for months she had become of my daily bread.
For I needed instead—sanely, responsibly—like, a computer. For I am typing—here, still, today—on a machine literally of the last millennium. Needing, too, like, a bed. Needing, also, oh, you know, to get my car fixed. So that it, like, runs.
So I’d resigned myself to the fact that Bella—that the bird’s name: full name Bella Nora, for “umbrella” and “eleanora”—would be a girl who got away.
Not the first man, would be me, who lost a girl, because of money.
Then I go over there, across the street, to the feed store, one morning, and the store people are in a tizzy, because some moneydripping woman they had never seen before had come in and met Bella, and decided she just had to have her, but she didn’t at that moment have her checkbook with her, but said she would return with it in two days, and at that time snap up Bella, and an appropriate cage.
They were grieving, these feed-store people. Because they thought I wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye. To Bella. And they thought that it was I who should really have her. Bella. Because, like, she was my girlfriend.
Like a typical stoic feelingless asshole guy, I went in and said goodbye to Bella. But only because I really didn’t believe it was goodbye.
For I immediately went home and put out a powerful negative force-field. To ward off whoever was this unconscionable animal who thought she could just swoop in, and just because she had money, make off with my girlfriend.
Several months before, two couples, I was then by the feed-people informed, were trolling Bella. Thinking of buying her. And I zapped them then with negative energy, to repel them right off my bird-woman. And this, it worked.
So that I did again. For this latest ghastly intruder.
I meanwhile wrote, in email, my friend, about the impending (alleged) sale of Bella to the Wrong Woman.
This friend had initially scorned Bella as “like a high-maintenance Italian girlfriend.” Concluding that Bella was supreme folly. And that, if I bought her, I would be a person who should be put into a Home.
But my friend had lately softened. Not only in observing how Bella and I interacted, but in her own perception of Bella as a being.
Too, my friend, unbeknownst to me, was, at that moment, going through a medication crisis.
She was, in fact, my friend, due to this medication crisis, and, as she only later admitted, at that moment, in a place where she was actually insane.
Which is why she stated that she would put on her credit card the money that I did not have at that moment in my possession, necessary to complete the purchase of Bella.
She further decreed that she and I must proceed at once to the store and purchase Bella, before the horrific intruder woman did likewise.
So, that’s what we did.
And so, Bella, she lives here now.
Of course, Bella is a toddler. And toddlers require a certain level of attention. But I have been through that. With the deviant daughter. And it is okay. Not an insurmountable problem. And she has settled, Bella, so serenely into this place. Like it’s where she wanted to be all along.
As for me?
How fucking much coincidence can you have, until you realize there are no coincidences, when the watch-poem for your life, for more than thirty years, has been:
I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through
and then heard
“ring of bone” where
ring is what a
When I was a kid, and read The Once And Future King, my favorite was Merlin, and I thought it was so cool, that he knew all about all the animals, and that he had an owl, always on his shoulder.
Today, I would still be Merlin, I try to know all about the animals, and I have, on my shoulder, this dizzy yearning bird, Ms. Bell, the Bellerbee, still but a baby, but who will grow into who knows what Power.
You know what?
In this, once again, in my life, comes proof, that the universe is good.
And, therefore, I can say, in perfect confidence, to you, that it’s good for you too; and therefore it’s all, it’s all, all gonna be, alright.