1. Sweet Pollen Bigger wing beat gusts me from sweet pollen billows, I must stick to its surface amid buffet and blast. Now heavier, taken, away from scented trail back home I skid. Track my trail through vibration pulses, map I will dance when home is reached to tell all where sweet pollen will be found, waggle tap the route after unloading my food haul. As light fades our head sensors flop, my legs wrap around others, I rehearse my days forage, retrace my flight, my complex steps mark vibration changes that radiate. Bright warmth lifts our heads from sleep to again, find our memory way, avoid harsh rain. 2. We Poisoners l Ingest, store poison for feathers, her. Changed in white she must be stillness. I wait outside her cocoon, her wings fettered, unstretched, un-inflated, I pass fullness, into her with a generous capsuled gift, attracted by her poison plumes, invasive insects mandibles, legs glued globule gripped. Our red warnings briefly adhesive. Our bulbous bairns nosh on green flesh deadly to others. Chew it to stalks till hunger crawls ever broader, masses in deathly carcasses litter path to fresh fodder. Death and sex infest grub and danger times. Wrapped as one, alert and vital and mine 3. A Stag Beetle Scratch decayed wood until it splinters. Hunt these spikes for soft white wood swallow inside. Indigestible I make a hard front, swallow soil ready to throw back up outside. Create a smooth cover, give myself horns, six legs, two wings all soft and white. Don't know how I know how, where, and what shapes to form, nor what light is, till lust makes me go, shift this bulk, these wings buzz into hot bright. There can be a few in battle for her. My heavy horns twist, locked in long fight to straddle her. Must turn them all over. Hungered in dark most of my life. Brief lusty flight, fight and sex in the light 4. A Turnip Moth Under I wait till dark. Light lessens. Beak stab shakes where I am. Dark. Out from Under chew tender stem. Move back Under when heat of many Over brightens. Asunder I dig. Push asunder. Turn and turn and turn. Under under. Legs tendril lengthen. Softness to float in the Over expand. I hear now, inside trembles at sound when others outside call in dark to know where they are, and what meals move around the dark Soft and wet I push asunder to air. Listen in bright while softness rustles hard. Even insects remember their young times. Pests like weeds try to survive humankind. 5. Cockroaches In dark wet safe. Lowness my leg hairs tell. If Else moves I know change in this tight Air. My young molt, as I did, get harder shells. Company is good. In dark am aware food with my two long, long noses that come out of my head, bounce, dangle, flick in front. Good grub I tell others when I find some. All will be eaten always on this hunt. My young eat my waste among mounds of cast skins, egg cases and the dead. A crack let me in to snuggle in warm corners fast settle in your grease, droppings, food for pets You horrify me with your pure cleanliness. Live in shittip, I'll join you in the mess 6. The Housefly My feet smell you first. I may leave my waste on your skin, or on your meal. I adore your sweat and dead skin. I make tasty paste by vomiting on it. My sticky pads for walking upside down. Drawn towards sunlight, I bounce back off an invisible force. If still I jump her or bang her in flight. So many hers to have can't stop or pause. Born into waste, I squirmed, deeper under. I changed, climbed towards warm daylight, stretched wings. As warm light disappears I find shelter. sleep. Tomorrow repeat everything. We'd wallow in waste if there were no flies. Praise them, their short lives, work and enterprise 7. "I Forage" I forage, chew wood pulp for my babies who give me sweetness in return. When they're bigger I'll dismember aphids, fleas and spiders to take home for them. My queen who gave birth to me will outlive me. At night I'm still, or repair fly babies broken rooms. At warm light give flight ,and scratch out fibre until I die. I lay my own babies once, another found out and ate them. I tend to my queen's. As light dims sooner and days get colder I get slower, stiller, food for the dream. It's too easy, a mechanically designed existence, reality is messy 8. Before I Before I break the Surface of the world I live another life beneath where light falls differently. I eat Small that curl in front, while Larger see me tasty bite. Hidden behind long stems I wait and wait. Quick squirt of breath behind to catch the Slow. Grab it with my hooks drag it to my gape. Climb Up a stem and shed Old Skins as I grow. Need forces me to break Surface in Dark where I learn to breathe before final shuck. Let limbs and wings harden into flights start. He grabs my neck, I arch my back, Eggstruck. I return to Suface, slice open stem. Lay my eggs for life to begin again. 9. As An Egg I fell to the Bottom of a dark world, I dug beneath the Flow when hunger's need led me to what falls and lands, what unfurled as my mouth brushes grazed hardness for feed. Sometimes I hid under these hardnesses, when Larger mouths turned, tipped others over. As grew, left behind smaller carcasses of myself. At my last shuck I massed air that blew me to a brighter warm Surface, where these wings dried out, I climbed stems to shed, the last part of myself. Now I join the race into swarm to be grabbed, give birth, float dead. I lived most of my life bottom feeding the light, continued self before yielding. 10. Barkfly Born beneath a spun web into a herd, we grind lichen in our jaws out of ruts and channels in the Tallness of the world. We chew the dead too. Move as one clutch. A slender rod from my mouth braces me while I prise up the food, clean the Tallness. Our mouths also spin layers wrap gently round and over a billow of whiteness. Once the Tallskin cleaned we eat this cover. With icy coldness coming our herd thins. I will have babies, I am a mother. I lay and web my herd on new Tallskin. Some of us have wings, some of us don't. Some run rather than fly when danger comes. 11. Grasshopper I break my hard shell against sharp cold, find soft shoots and grass to eat in the warm. As I grow out my young selves into old I eat tougher stems, and my wings take form. My stomach hears sounds. droplets from above knock you off of a stem, drown you in their fall. My large back legs move me up into rough air which thunders inside, I land and call rub leg against wing, she arrives, is bigger than I. I climb her. Droplets break a wing, knock her sideways so I topple, shiver onto sodden soil, float into dying. Here I look into world as it passes. Drown in this flow as it flutters, flashes. 12. The Stonefly Above the Flow, under the Hard I rest. I have no mouth to eat. I must find her. Masses of us move with the Flow, find best place to change, avoid quick mouths of hunger as they rise through the Flow, know where we're bound. Wait for our small bodies to arrive above. Survivors climb ashore. I pound the ground with my stomach, then listen. Strive to hear her answering tap and we pair She quick dips her our eggs into the Flow. I must tap again, meet more breed and share until no more changes to undergo. I avoided being food for others, so I could be myself in another. 13. A Thrips Once out of my egg I suck fresh plant juice. fall to the ground, find dark under dead leaves. New wings clap and fling me in air, let loose my body into sky. I sense her needs. Another is here. We flick our bellies into each other, and kill with our teeth. While we fight a male moves in to best please her. I kill one, flick other off the leaf. She is bigger than me. We swap signals. I climb up. Stroke her sides with my mid legs. We link. I give of myself. Ends in pulls, to break apart. Cuts stem she lays our eggs. She outlives me, but I will still go on. It is all about going on, once we're gone. 14. Earwigs We crawl out of our eggs and eat them. Mam guards us against those that would eat us, feeds us what she's caught or found, dead stems, hard and soft shelled, rotted out of darkness. Shimmery semi circular hind wings I first fold lengthwise, then crosswise curl my belly, use my pincers tuck in last of exposed wing. Mam ate all unwise young who didn't leave her. I left her nest. I investigate all nook, cranny, slit. I smell her, tap, stroke her with my forceps. We make a home, she lays, insists I flit. Even home is temporary. All fleet. I hide in darkness, wings folded and neat. 15. An Aphid Born pregnant, I pierce stem suck plant sap. They keep away those that would eat us. They stroke our sides, encourage from our backs sweet droplets. If no sap left they take us to fresh soft plants. They tore off my fresh wings so I have to stay here and suck this sap. I grew them because we were sucking dry. They only want the sweetness off our backs. My young pop out of me, all pregnant . The ants carried us over to fresh sap. Out of myself my young pierce new plant. I watch ants sip the sweetness off their backs. We are kept producing sweetness and young. until we die, cosseted all our lifelong. 16. A Pond Skater My front legs grab a snorkel, pull it out. I suck juices from its owner, my four other legs balancing on bubbles pout. So if wave comes I'll rise to waters floor. Astride her if she does not submit I'll tap the water for predators to come. She's under me. I make sure she knows she'll be eaten first. She submits to my thrum. I flew here when I was small, attracted by its glints of light I saw from above. When food is scarce our young are snacks. A tongue eats me if I'm not quick enough. Speed and alertness to subtle changes in vibrations around me mark dangers. 17. A Whirligig Beetle (for Steve Ely) I see Above and Below in same look. My foul billows deter large mouths beneath. Once lived Below, caught food when I was hooked to bottom by my stomach anchors teeth. I breathed through gills, impelled climbed to Above, clambered up stem, hooks dug in I hung there, from spit and some dirt, I spun enough to change my long body to short, rounder. Dead and dying I find on this Surface I capture with my front legs. If all dries, I'll climb a stem, unpack wings out their case, rise to find a reflection from the skies. I paddle in circles, dive Below, climb Above to avoid dangerous times.
18. The Green Lacewing (for Andy MacGregor) Suspended in air on a thread of spit from a leaf I am born.I suck juices out of each one, their dried out shells I stick onto myself, hunt more. Sip their oozes. Older now I only feed on honeydew, nectar and pollen. My stomach hears her trembled reply to my song passes through leaf to her. Feel her resonant glimmer. When Colder arrives I hide in dead leaves. My colour fades until Warmer return. With my bright wing colour back I receive an urge to search for sweetness and relearn in a fresh new world its sources, and soon I will sing to her again, hear her tune 19. The Head Lice I need to find a place to lay my eggs. Find a spot close to a clearing. Bottom of this stem. Not humid or wet, perfect. I cement in just before the long stem enters the Blood Field. They'll not starve here, stab for a regular blood meal in Darkness. My six claws help me climb Tallness, nab a He to make more young. Avoid Brightness. Sometimes sudden these Tallness rent apart. We scatter for cover. Dark is safety. So many young die when the cleansing starts. We can't be drowned, but combed carefully. We live in your tall forests, you sustain us with your lifeblood, and pests we remain. 20. The Flea Young, I ate my own shed skin, others hair, waste, dead skin cells. I was all mouth, no legs. I avoided light, burrow into the threadbare. I fold in half, spin silk around myself. It is sticky. I deliberately gather up sand,soil, threads, bulk the inside with silk. I get legs. Still. Wait stealthily, for passing heat to make me leap outside. My body is hard plated. Hairs secure me in the close fur. I puncture, pump warm feed into my stomach. He is here. Sure He'll have me, claws clasped, legs wrapped to my form. I can't bear young if I starve. I will keep Waiting for passing warm to make me leap . 21. The Snakefly Vigorously tremor my abs for long time, answer His dogged drawn out judders . His signals more intense stronger than mine. Hear my wing flutter. We hear one another up through our legs. His quivers vibrating mine.When He stops signaling, I make short vigorous thrums. Our antennae shake. We touch gobs, fluttering wings. Lunge and bite. Together we arch, intertwine feelers, mouths contact. We graze cheeks. He lunges, drives me hither. I start on him, sometimes. Start the attacks. Our faces touch, again. He lunges, sends me backwards. We walk off, separate wends. The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15) Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry) 3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind: Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead