Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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These Are the Insects

Not birds, not crickets,
not even the random
spastic chatter of squirrels
quarreling across dead leaves;
there is nothing singing
from the trees, and the books
as I choose to remember
them suggest that should
be unsettling rather than
evidence of peace. And trees
is a misnomer for the way
the dozen or two shoots
of bamboo slough limply
forward in the wind like
each is a child late for a bus
he does not particularly
want to catch because
he would just as soon go on
listening to the red thing
the fever did inside his ears,
would rather with a hose
and a spoon make mud
bricks in the little shed-
veiled section of his uncle’s
garden. Even at eleven
he knows he should be
ashamed that his desires
are this small and involve
dirt on his underbelly,
and he hasn’t even
heard of the death
drive yet, or Wittgenstein’s
blackened finger ends
proposing what must
be, let alone Li Po, that sub-
lime drunk, who crum-
pled into a moony, mud-
lit scrim of pond, then
woke to find the hard
sheen of the afterlife
bearing down, as well as
a trio of pigs politely
asking whether they could
begin to eat what his body
still obtained, the pigs
pointing to the rice-
like line of maggots already
starting in on his pale
legs. Poor Li Po, dead,
quite consciously,
despairing in heaven’s
sudden mud and reeds,
with no heart to tell
the pigs he still loves
his body—wastes,
instead, the morning
hovering inches above
himself, watching, thinking:
really, these are the insects
that would destroy us,
and they don’t even sing.  

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