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Based on an incident in Kuwait in 2006, while in transit to Baghdad. I saw a sparrow panting in the extreme heat - 52C (126F) - and realised I'd never seen a bird's tongue before. Kuwait exploits "guest workers" from the sub-continent shamefully. Chris Booth is a friend and colleague with whom I have Baghdad in common.


Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse05 Sep 2013

(For Chris Booth)

A pressed down
Heat exhausted stagger
Through furnace-fierce oppression.

The implacable sun
Beats down slave labour
Squatting in hot shade.

A panting sparrow
Falls limp from a
Dust heavy palm tree.

It's flaccid tongue
Hangs out impotently
From a gaping beak.