I’m driving to stand outside my mother’s house

and the radio’s talking
about locusts
blunt heads, big eyes

clouds of hunger,
blizzards

swarms plagues storms

and I wonder,
how heavy is a locust?
a single locust?
skin crisp and shiny
emerging from itself

yellow is such an ugly colour

and the rattle of wings –
how does that sound?
billions of wings, beating
and billions of mouths,
too much,
and all those thin legs,
scratching.

For Brendan at earthweal, who has given us the theme of “Strange World”. It does seem like we are getting down to some pretty fundamental stuff at the moment. Fire and flood and plague and locusts eating East Africa. Things are off kilter, to say the least.

16 thoughts on “I’m driving to stand outside my mother’s house

  1. Wow! It really feels like that could happen any time now, Sarah! I love the run in from the title to the first stanza, it works so well, the description of the locusts, the sparsity of punctuation, the ‘clouds of hunger’ and ‘the rattle of wings’, the ‘billions of mouths’ and ‘all those thin legs, scratching’.

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  2. The size of these locust swarms are the product of heavy rains and increased heat in the Sahara. Dust swarms from that heat have also sprawled across the Atlantic and done strange things to the hurricane season. You take ample mouthfuls of those locusts, sampling what it means to multiply crisp skins and thin legs a millionfold. And they have spread as far as India … The mind swats at such a swarm, trying to make sense of these strange times. A swarming, suffocating otherness not unlike the coronavirus pandemic. It makes things strange indeed. Thanks for bringin’ it early and strong to earthweal … Brendan

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    • Apparently the political situations in Yemen is adding to the mess. Lots of locust swarms begin in the Empty Quarter, and the Yemenis had teams in place to get rid of them early on. Things have fallen apart there, there have been some unexpected storms, and now we have a plague of locusts.

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  3. Wow, I can SEE that one locust, then imagine the millions of mouths, voraciously chewing their way across the desert. As if there isnt enough already going on. This is so vivid; you made me see it. Yikes.

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  4. Clouds of hunger…I feel like that’s a good description of much of the world right now. Every description I’ve read of mass insect invasions has seemed like end times. (K)

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  5. Your reconstruction of the locust made my skin crawl–vivid, ominous, frightening, and most of all, that it is just another increment of suffering and destruction laid on this current tapestry of our little Danse Macabre. I especially the evocation of color and sound that ends your poem with a breath of horror, even as you make it all seem perfectly natural.

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  6. The title here is perfect for that sense of dislocation prevailing at the moment. Your reconstruction of the locust made my skin crawl–vivid, ominous, frightening, and most of all, that it is just another increment of suffering and destruction laid on this current tapestry of our little Danse Macabre. I like especially the evocation of color and sound that ends your poem with a breath of horror, even as you make it all seem perfectly natural. ~hedgewitch

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