Boxelder Bug

It’s in your tree.
It’s in your house.
It’s in your dream

of a treehouse
your father built
for your sisters and you

in a tangle of Massachusetts pine.

Something about an uneven ladder,
an exposed nail, a tetanus shot
before you wake. Its blood

red nymph bodies come to molt
into your closed-eye hallucinations.
The international orange outline

of its black adult wings
warns you not to eat it.
It may not be a stink bug,

but it will stink
just the same if you bite
into its hardened shell.

Will taste worse
than any other bug
you’ve tried before.

Its wants are simple—sucking

on seeds like a whittler
on a porch, carving tiny
plump evening grosbeaks

perched precariously
on skinny branches
from flaming box elder wood.

Some days you wish
you could wrap yourself tightly
in an ash gray bark

to protect yourself
from the hungry AI poets
who creep around

the backyard seeking flat oval rocks
to sun themselves on. Swarms
of them start bonfires

in thickets of invasive species
after midnight as they drain
enough flasks of liquid

courage to plot their dawn invasion
through the nearest crack
in the stucco facade.

It’s in your book,

staining your thoughts
in glorious geometries.
Oh, bug, be true.


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