The Swarm

Like whirling dervishes they congregate
around the bright lit porches and streetlamps,
their bodies hurling like mad wax-winged clouds
that seek where water meets with tender wood.
Against their onslaught, darkened houses crouch
low to the earth, hoping their bones are dry
enough to seem less tempting to this horde,
and seem to hold their breath ’til it swarms by.
They even chase cars down the wood-lined streets,
as if those headlamps led like piper’s notes
to glens and forests filled with hardwood trunks
where they could feast for endless hours in peace.

From block to block they travel, seeking out
a damp and fetid place where food is near;
and then, when night’s ink blots the grey of dusk
they fold their wings, crawl off and disappear.

It’s said they follow, blind, a rebel queen
who must split from her family or die;
to save the kingdom as it grows in size,
each daughter takes a legion to the skies.
Their soldier’s stomachs fill along their trail,
from Pontchartrain uptown to Magazine;
through live oak and great cypress-covered streets
destruction marks the way that they have been.
Where they’ve encamped, the kindling’s turned to dust;
at just a touch great beams and walls collapse,
while parque floors and Quarter ceilings flake
away to skeletons and fire traps.

Tonight the window lamps are left at dim.
The armies of Formosans are astir;
and woe to those whose timber lies beneath
the echo of that hungry cassion’s whir.

26 May 2005

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