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Sunday, May 10, 2009


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

In grateful acknowledgment of Bill Holm
who first shone the light of poetry on
the humble box elder bug


On the arm of my lawn chair two box elder bugs
Have backed into each other for sex
I try to imagine what it would be like
If they were the size of aircraft carriers --
What thunderous coupling!


In a better world aircraft carriers
Would be the size of box elder bugs
Think how minute
The jet fighters they carry would be
Think of miniscule pilots
Scrambling from below decks
To climb into microscopic cockpits
And take off on a bombing raid
Over an enemy city where
Even if their precision missiles and bombs
Go astray as they so often seem to do
And strike a wedding party or a school
The explosions are so infinitesimally small
That no one even notices
And the celebration goes on and on
Deep into the night
And classes continue until the final bell
Parents welcome their children home
After school
Families sit down to supper together
There are no empty chairs
And meanwhile the fighters have landed
Back on the U.S.S. Box Elder Bug
And after debriefing and a few beers
The wee little pilots take off
Their flight suits
Crawl into their wee little bunks
And drift off to sleep
And visiting them in their untroubled slumber
Come tiny dreams of victory

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.