Martin Elster: Of Bugs

Some bugs have big heads, whereas others have fangs
that pierce their own kind; some form sizable gangs
which attack other gangs; and then some are ascetic,
some puny, some tough, and some truly athletic.

One can swivel its head and, resembling a nun
in a trance, is as still as a stick. Who would run
from a stick? Yet its deadly front legs full of spikes
will grab beetles and flies, even hummingbirds. Yikes!

One bug looks so pretty you just want to hug it—
a monarch or ladybug—though you might bug it.
Another appears to have come from a planet
where even the locals want only to ban it.

The centipede looks like a bristly missile.
The aphid—green, tiny, and soft—sips on thistle.
Daily users of silk with an octet of eyes,
while most spiders aren’t biters of men, you’d be wise

to avoid them. Some beasties, though, actually draw
fresh blood (like the horsefly) and leave your flesh raw
with their scimitar-mandibles. Then there’s the roach.
This beetle like creature will often encroach

on your space, yet is harmless as earwigs. Another
odd bug called the weta is slightly a brother
to cockroach and cricket; the size of a mouse,
it can scare a meek lady if found in her house.

And last, a behemoth, the creepiest bug
in the cosmos, who quails at a gnat or a slug,
who cowers from scorpion, flinches from flea,
yet commands the whole world. Yup, that’s right—you and me.


Close up of digger bee's face and head grey and black