Point of Beginning
I slap the fly that pauses on the window.
As its crumpled body falls to the sill
I realize how much older that fly
was than the glass, than any glass.
125,000,000 years ago tiny black needles
with wrap-around eyes hovered
above the grass
while huge green not-birds darted and
skimmed in the slurried air
whole galaxies of lace-winged fliers
millions of years from names,
millions of years before
anything living would learn to read
stones. And yet on the toe
of my boot this morning
something minute perched.
O Handsome Clubtail
O Coppery Emerald
O Powdered Dancer vanishing against the blue
In 1578, Mark Scaliot fashioned a padlock
from eleven pieces of iron, steel and
brass, attached it to a gold chain, and
slipped it over the neck of a flea. No one
thought to emulate him until 250 years later,
when flea circuses became widely popular.
Some ringmasters sort their prisoners into two
groups then outfit each with a harness, hitched to
a cart if a flea is a runner, a ball if it jumps. Others
glue musical instruments to their charges’
thoraxes, then glue their legs to the floor of their
enclosure and apply shocks from underneath.
Since fleas’ back legs are very strong, their ever-
more-desperate efforts to free themselves send
their carts and balls careening in the first case,
and their instruments oscillating with the apparent
élan of tiny Dizzy Gillespies in the second,
effects most people find highly entertaining.
The Consequence of Man’s Disrespect for the Natural World, as expressed
in the Sting of a Certain Wasp
You grow very sleepy.
Then, like a breached ship
on a darkening sea,
you slip out of sight.
—One out of every four creatures on earth is a beetle.
God said: if they will be many, then let them be beautiful.
So in His Book of Beetles
he drew dark islands, and bearers of treasure,
and fires at the hearts of forests.
God said: and let the end of beauty be vanishment.
Into tropical green flecked with light.
Into the dotted throats of lilies.
Into red sand.
And when the moon bares her milk, said God,
let the few reverence the many.
In Japan, in a seventh century shrine:
nine thousand shimmering elytra
set in gold.
Lola Haskins’ thirteenth poetry collection is Asylum: Improvisations on John Clare (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019). Her prose works include Not Feathers Yet, a poetry advice book, Solutions Beginning with A, original fables about women, illustrated by Maggie Tayloeand, a nonfiction book, Fifteen Florida Cemeteries, Strange Tales Unearthed. Past awards include the Iowa Poetry Prize, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, four Florida arts fellowships, two Florida Book Awards, the Florida’s Eden prize for environmental writing, and the Emily Dickinson prize from Poetry Society of America. She serves as Honorary Chancellor of the Florida State Poets Association.