Hornets’ Nest

 “I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.”
    —War correspondent James Foley (1973—2014)
           from his last message to his family

Man Jack the man is, just” Gerard Manley Hopkins

Advertisement

Recovered now enough to scrub the deck,
which turned dun brown with insidious dirt
and cobwebs in the months I twisted, hurt-
ing in yet one more hospital bed, my spine a wreck,

my wobbling brain awash in static bubbles
instead of what I used to tell myself were tough,
astringent thoughts. Oh, Lord, they say, the troubles
I’ve seen. Well, Jack, get over that self-pity stuff.

Your dear wife has a job for you to do,
so do it. Soap & water (warm works best),
a sponge, a piston stream of water and, Jack, you
have it! Progress! Until you spray a hidden nest

of hornets, who come at you, each a fighter plane
zigging this way, then that, to catch you by surprise
as your left wrist then your right foot erupt in pain.
And now they’ve found your face, and both your eyes,

and you beat what the Brits call a hasty retreat.
But dammit this is your porch, your house, your home,
and if these S.O.B.s had just remained discreet
or—better—stayed hidden in their aerodrome

you might have done the live let live. But no! Not now.
This is war, and either you or they will have to go.
And so you grab two cans of Raid and POW!
And it’s right in the kisser, as Gleason would say. Hello

my pretty ones! By now I’m hornet mad myself, and keep
hitting them with everything I’ve got. And they hit back
with everything they’ve got. Worse, they have deep
reserves, as one winged fiend multiplies by twenty, Jack.

And soon you’re like Cuchulain swinging at the sea
as wave on wave keeps coming in. And in the end
you know you cannot win, though you win this round. Be
there when they swarm me, You, my first, fast, last Friend.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Poetry

The latest from america

This year’s W.Y.D takes place less than three months after the conclusion of the Synod for Young People that was held in the Vatican last October.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 21, 2019
On Jan. 18, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington. (Survival Media Agency via AP)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An exchange between Catholic high school students and a Native American tribal leader in Washington Jan.

Like most public writers, I was used to getting notes that were crude, crazy or even mildly threatening. Normally, I would say a quick prayer for these obviously troubled people and get on with my day. This time it felt different, precisely because the author wasn’t insulting or obviously deranged.
Rachel LuJanuary 21, 2019
In cities across the country, local activists marched in support of a progressive agenda centered on economic justice, racial justice and immigrant rights.
Brandon SanchezJanuary 20, 2019