Poem for Poetry Thursday


Here we are now, the wasp trapped between the window and me.
He feels the cool breeze of freedom but cannot find his way out.
This is the last time I’ll see him alive. But he’s moving on
and so am I. You can only think about dying
for so long. Today I am speaking in the mother tongue
in which living and dying is the same language. Today
I want to hurt something, smash something between glass and hand.
The wasp in his black muscle T and stripped pants so tight
his ass looks like a bubble. I tap the pane. Watch his antenna move.
He must feel grounded. Or trapped. Misses his mother.
God save the queen. God’s mercy is missing.
Maybe he’s lost hope. Maybe he wants to jump.
Or wait for the wasp rescue squad that’s just not coming.
And after his passing, I will hold endless memorials for him.
I’ll speak fondly of him as if he never made the wrong choices.
Never climbed around my neck to sting me. I will never forget
the redness, the swelling—the gift that keeps on giving.
But you must move on and so must I. Does he believe in posterity?
Decorum implies that that I stop but retaliation seems the only way.
I am the horrifying other who can’t be located or identified. I am
God’s missing mercy. Today we’ll gather our incomplete information,
our faint knowledge of each other, and plot each other’s destruction.
You cannot find your way back to the cool breeze of freedom.
This is the last time you’ll see me alive. Today I struggled. You struggled.
The universal “you” struggled. Without sentiment. It happened.
Here we are now.


Bug said…
This is really beautiful. I think I need to read it a few more times to say anything else.
January said…
Thanks Bug! Feedback welcome, of course.
bb said…
i like the way the 'final showdown' of the poem is never reached, always one push away. carefully measured - well done!

(i think we're both concerned with freedom today...)
twitches said…
WOw - this is really terrific - urgent and angry and resolute. Too many good lines to list again. Nice work.
paris parfait said…
Excellent poem, January! I know the pain of a wasp sting and your poem moves past that into universal law, suggesting deeper layers. Really well done.
Jennifer said…
incredible, I can't help but think of the war when I read this...
gkgirl said…
i really liked how it
seem to come full circle,
with the "this is the last
time i'll see you/you'll
see me alive"

and so many interesting
points and visuals
that i had to go back
and reread for my own enjoyment...
the description,
the planned memories...
great work!
January O'Neil said…
gkgirl: I had to reread it myself after I wrote it.

Jennifer: I have to admit, all of the talk about 9/11 certainly influenced this poem. Besides, Twitches always writes such good political, topical poetry, she was my inspiration. (Thanks, T!)
The war theme is definitely here--and timely and powerful. "Here we are now" opening and closing this poem, the echo of the lines nailing the energy and time. I loved it...
GreenishLady said…
Marvellous poem, January. I wasn't sure what the "background" hum was, but knew there was more than a wasp at the window there. The sense of menace was so much more. Very well done. One of these days I'll post my (very different) wasp poem.
jillypoet said…
"Today I am speaking in the mother tongue/in which living and dying is the same language." Such a great line. I can't say I know for sure what it means, but it sets the tone for this whole poem. You really nailed the prompt, I think. From what I've read, this is not your voice, but yet it is so powerful, so well-written. I'm going to go back and read it a few more times, there's so much there. It almost reads like a free-write, but with tightening. Do you know what I mean? Just great!
kj said…
god's missing mercy...

i had trouble reading this poem-it made me very sad. probably because you have written it well with an authentic voice.

best wishes, kj
jim said…

Your intelligence here--unflinching, bold--is simply beautiful and revelatory. Big, big stuff.
Have to agree with jillypoet about the line 'I am speaking in the mother tongue
in which living and dying is the same language' - totally awesome. The poem as a whole works on several levels and is excellent.
Anonymous said…
I echo all the positive feedback. I also love the subtle bits of humor--or maybe it says something about me that I found a bit, especially in the early descriptions of the wasp.

An incredible poem--it's been on my mind all day.

http://in-the-loop.blogspot.com (It won't let me post normally!)
Catherine said…
I picked up on the same line as some of the others - "in which living and dying is the same language"
I didn't immediately think of the war, but perhaps it's not so immediate in New Zealand. Looking back, there does seem to be something more going on in the poem than just the wasp
lisrobbe said…
Well done as always! I really felt for the bee as well as the person stung. It seems so simplistic that after a bee stings someone it's life can terminate, yet we charge on (at least if we have no adverse effects from the sting).
chiefbiscuit said…
An accomplished, complete poem - wonderful. Love the description of the wasp in his T! Along with the bite of humour (or should that be sting? Ouch - sorry) there was a darker tone to the poem - a nice, tight composition with a satisfying tension to it.
January said…
Thanks for the comments.
michelle said…
Beautiful, especially these magnified details:

I tap the pane. Watch his antenna move.

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