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Chironomus plumosus

May 16, 2013

by Steve Tomasko

Twelve years old and in the back yard with a badminton racket.   Not batting birdies. Whacking flies.  By the hundreds.  Per swat.  That’s how thick they run.    What else are 12-year-olds to do on a hot summer day two blocks from Lake Winnebago during the lake fly bloom?   At least they don’t bite, we tell each other.   Don’t ride your bike with your mouth open, we kid each other.    Can’t hang the wash out, our mothers complain to each other.   Mosquitoish things.   Arise out of the lake a couple times a summer.   During the hatch, they’re thick.    No, thick doesn’t do it.    Clouds. Multitudinousswarminghordes.      They hover over every tree, every road, every damn thing.   They dim the sun.    A hatch of trillions caught by Doppler radar.    The whirring of millions of wings singing an electric buzz, just a touch above Middle C. At least they don’t bite, we remind each other.    They feed the fish, some say.   The birds are happy, others say.   It’s Hitchcockian say the out-of-towners.   Just life, we say (sometimes forgetting to tell them they don’t bite).     You get used to it, most say:  mow the lawn fast, get the mail fast, run for your car.  Short-lived. Ephemeral. A week or so, tops. As adults, that is. All they do is mate, lay their eggs and die. No need for mouth parts (at least they don’t bite).     Afterwards, they collect in dark drifts at lakeside, curbside, houseside.   Smell a little.   Make good Fertilizer.   Then gone.   Until the next time, at least.


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From reading his poems, you might think that Steve Tomasko has some kind of insect fetish. You might not be too far off the mark. But there are worse things, of course. When not thinking about bugs, Steve wonders about the life of a slime mold, or how many hair follicle mites are in his eyebrows right now. Oh wait, that is thinking about bugs.

  1. June 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Love the poem and especially love that we share an insect fetish. I knew I couldn’t be the only one!

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