The Fly


Karl Shapiro

Oh hideous little bat the size of snot,

With polyhedral eyes and shabby clothes,

To populate the stinking cat you walk

The promontory of the dead man's nose,

Climb with the fine leg of a Duncan Phyfe

The smoking mountains of my food

And in a comic mood

In mid-air take to bed a wife.

Riding and riding with your filth of hair

On gluey foot or wing, forever coy,

Hot from the compost and green sweet decay

Sounding your buzzer like an urchin toy;

You dot all whiteness with diminutive stool;

In the tight belly of the dead

Burrow with hungry head

And inlay maggots like a jewel.

At your approach the great horse stomps and paws

Bringing the hurricane of his heavy tail;

Shod in disease you dare to kiss my hand

Which sweeps against you like an angry flail;

Still you return, return, trusting your wing

To draw you from the hunter's reach

That learns to kill to teach

Disorder to the tinier thing.

My peace is your disaster. For your death

Children like spiders cup their pretty hands

And wives resort to chemistry of war.

In fens of sticky paper and quicksands

You glue yourself to death. Where you are stuck

You struggle hideously and beg;

You amputate your leg

Imbedded in the amber muck.

But I, a man, must swat you with my hate,

Slap you across the air and crush your flight,

Must mangle with my shoe and smear your blood,

Expose your little guts pasty and white,

Knock your head sidewise like a drunkard's hat,

Pin your wings under like a crow's,

Tear off your flimsy clothes

And beat you as one beats a rat.

Then like Gargantua I stride among

The corpses strewn like raisins in the dust,

The broken bodies of the narrow dead

That catch the thrust with fingers of disgust.

I sweep. One gyrates like a top and falls

And stunned, stone blind, and deaf

Buzzes it's frightful F

And dies between three cannibals.

Go Back