First, remember that "trunk" is just another branch in Subversion, and it has no significance whatsoever, so admonitions to be on a branch rather than on "trunk" are meaningless. What they're trying to say is, "Don't do your development work in the stable branch." I think that projects nearly always need one stable branch and one development branch, unless there is no stable release yet.
If the rest of the Parrot developers work in the trunk, there is no reason for you to work on a separate branch unless you are trying to make a large change which will be incompatible with other people's work if you commit it before it's all complete. It doesn't sound like that's the case. I think you could work in trunk.
If you do want to keep working in your branch, I think you should change your merge methodology a bit. For one thing, you don't want to merge from the point where your branch was created; you want to merge from the point where you last merged. You also should use tags, rather than trying to keep track of revision numbers or look them up in logs.
Here's a sample workflow:
There may still be some conflicts, but if you ever get conflicts on files that you personally have not modified, you should be worried. Conflicts are only supposed to happen when you and someone else touch the same lines or properties.
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