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Sunday, August 02, 2020


by Ralph James Savarese

Murder hornet photo tweeted by @Elvis_Trump

Let us now praise the Japanese honey bee, Apis cerana,
which alone cannot defeat the much larger

and more vicious “murder hornet,” Vespa mandarinia.
Just one or two of the latter can destroy an entire hive,

moving in like winged, up-armored Cossacks.
After decapitating the honey-makers, they stuff

their yellowish-orange mouths with larvae and pupa.
Yet a miracle, not so much on ice as in the oven,

sometimes occurs. The honey-makers practice a technique
called “bee-balling,” which involves swarming

their attacker and collectively cooking it alive.
The bees move their flight muscles to generate heat;

they can withstand temperatures two degrees higher
than the hornet…. How about we try this with that predator

in the White House? Surround him with human warmth;
kindle him, you might say, with kindness? Of course,

the American honey bee hasn’t yet developed such a defense,
perhaps because it’s insufficiently eusocial and maybe

even indifferent to the fate of the hive. (“I’m not gonna
wear a mask, and there’s nothing you can do to make me!”)

As the seas rise and infection marauds the planet,
can you not hear the soft buzzing of wings, the earth balling

to save itself?

Ralph James Savarese is the author of two books of prose, Reasonable People and See It Feelingly, and one collection of poetry, Republican Fathers, due out in October.