Posted by: John Looker | 23 July, 2015

Behold The Beetle

 

In the tangles of the garden undergrowth,
            long neglect
has left the stump of an apple-tree
            rotting.

In the soil among the roots is the pupa:
         imprisoned
in its cell, the pale grub lying squeezed
           and latent
waiting until time, DNA or the sun will
            summon it – 

as the old lamp found in Aladdin’s cave is
            rubbed
and the Genie, grotesque and implacable,
           erupts.

It is Other, it is Alien, and yet like the djinn
            or man
it is made it might say in the image of God.
           Stand back:
it may fly, it may rise; it could block out
            the sun.

 

© John Looker 2015

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Responses

  1. A great poem concerning perspective John!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this, John! The poem itself is a story (THE story) in a capsule. 🙂

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    • I hadn’t seen it like that Elaine – and I like that thought. Many thanks.

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  3. Wonderful imagery, John

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Up to your usual high standard, John!

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  5. I can feel the struggle in the mind of the English gentleman entangled as it is in “natural history” as it observes a minor event on the garden path, yet given that mind, the event raises specters that raise questions that raise . . . doubts? and shadows of doubts. Perhaps the Adaddin piece would fall to a more extreme modernist editorial sensibility, but it helps set the cultural scene: “grotesque and implacable” indeed! What a world!

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    • I guess you’re right that the Aladdin piece would not find its way into the modernist canon, Tom 🙂 But I’m pleased that you feel these verses point towards questions and doubts. They are in part a follow-up to the poem The Young Philosopher.

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  6. Oh dear, John…..have you been reading Kafka lately?

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    • Ha ha! Perhaps you should refer me to a therapist!

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  7. John, I have been thinking a lot about the massive extinction going on now and wondering why we have all not been out in the streets raising hell about it. I wrote a sonnet,

    “By God, They’re Protecting Salamanders
    Instead of Human Beings”

    An Italian Sonnet

    When Darwin saw gradation in a finch
    That flits about Galapagous , he saw
    One species modified in beak and claw
    By choices made adapting to the flinch
    Of circumstances born out of the wrench
    Of geologic time, the pitch and yaw
    Of land and ocean, weather systems raw
    With winds that shape the land that rainstorms drench.

    But in his old age earthworms sang the song
    That sirened through the studies that he did ,
    The deaf and blind regurgitator dug
    Into plain ground turned soil, the endless round
    Of earth built by the living plows that slid
    Fecundity out of the realm of slugs.

    that is both an explanation and a denial, I suppose, of the explanation for why we aren’t raising hell even though the clock of doom seems to be imbedded in the fact that humankind is truly extincting a valuable part of the earth.

    I find “Behold the Beetle” seems to resonate with some of my current thought. It is true.

    “It is Other, it is Alien, and yet like the djinn
    or man
    it is made it might say in the image of God…”

    And we should realize that we should

    ” Stand back:
    it may fly, it may rise; it could block out
    the sun.”

    What marvels of creation we can find:

    In the soil among the roots is the pupa:
    imprisoned
    in its cell, the pale grub lying squeezed
    and latent
    waiting until time, DNA or the sun will
    summon it –

    The apple is the fruit of knowledge, is it not?

    In the old lamp is a mis-formed genie that is the essence of magic, but his grossness is what we notice, ” grotesque and implacable,” not the magic of a genie erupting from an old bottle.

    This poem, like so many of your poems, certainly leads me down a “thinking” path.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this one Thomas and I’m very interested to read your sonnet which resonates with concern for the natural world and delight in its creatures (and as always is impeccably crafted). Thanks for sharing it. You might be interested to hear that Darwin’s house is not far from where we live in SE England and you can walk round the garden where he conducted his research into those “living ploughs” (inspired expression, that!). Incidentally, thank you for pointing up the significance of the apple tree in my own poem. It’s very good to hear from you.

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  8. Really like this, John. I’m struck by the idea of the sun summoning something that may then block it out. Also – as mentioned above, the idea of the apple tree – ‘rotting’ in this case…

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    • Many thanks Deborah – I am pleased that you like it.

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  9. I enjoyed this poem, too, and all the comments. I like its movement (the beetle’s and the poem’s) from prison to sun.

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    • Thanks Anna; it’s nice to hear from you.

      Like


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