The HyperTexts

John Claiborne Isbell

John Claiborne Isbell is a poet, a professor in the Languages department at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the author of The Birth of European Romanticism: Truth and Propaganda in Staël's 'De l'Allemagne' and Slavery in the Caribbean Francophone World.

Insect World

The flies are an expression of the heat.
They circle lazily, as if their weight
retards them in their flight. They may not care
that in this universe, a thing or two
outpaces their performance. You might find
some arrogance in that. This shining vermin
rotates through the June air as it digests
our shit and carrion. It has its work cut out
reducing what is dead; and what is dead
won’t be disturbing it. That's how flies eat.

There is no Overlord of the Mosquitoes.
They take your blood, and they’re not asking nicely.
A thin hum. One is nearing. Have you time
or leisure to address it? Can you now
brush it away or end it? There is blood
where its frail being perched, all wing and leg
and feeding tube. In brackish water where
the rain drains slowly, larvae hatch. They'll have
a way to feed, to reproduce. Disease
will travel with them, this is how things work.

A spider moves at speeds you can observe,
but cannot hope to match. There are few insects
a spider will not happily devour.
It stops at wall or bookcase, then propels
its being over open ground to where
what it desires is waiting. Or it spins
a thin web from its abdomen – a thing
of air and steel, that trembles when a wing
or leg strays into it, becomes attached.
The spider rides the web. And the vibration
of some small life caught in its coils will bring
the spider to it, come to kill and eat.

The HyperTexts