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1 poem
by Morgan Boyle

Morgan Boyle is a librarian/poet out of Nebraska currently living in Queens. She has work published in Yes, Poetry and her poem "Winter After Fall" was voted Brooklyn Poets' Poem of the Month for March 2021.

17 Years of Cicadas

they are coming!

the bugs are coming 17 years is up and

we are all standing on a ground rumbling with em

larvae on larvae grubs on grubs all white and blind and squirmy

but now they’ve got their wings on and the exoskeletons are getting hard

prepping to crawl out and scream and fuck and scream and fuck

and it’s gonna be a summer of screaming and fucking

when i was young i wanted their bodies to be blue and their eyes to be

blood red

but the bodies aren’t blue and the eyes are

almost too bloody

i would gaze obsessively at the page of my insect encyclopedia

imagining that special 17th year

the year they would finally be done growing

the year they would crawl out screaming

i dreamt of my own 17th year

of my own final growth

thought that’d be the year, my year, peak year

the year i’d crawl out of the ground pretty

hair like the sun and big moon eyes

grub-self left in the ground, flying off screaming to the heavens

crawled out instead 17 yr old gregor samsa

i screamed into the sun and still nothing of me was blue

spent too much time dreaming of cicadas, came too true

this morning i read a thread on twitter about a swarm of locusts so big

it blotted out the 1875 nebraskan sun

1800 miles of locusts long 1/3 a mile of locusts high

a cloud covering the people the land eating everything

this cloud has engulfed my entire goddamn morning

the sun! the sun! look at em now! the sun is gone! so many small bodies

close together flying together so close now to blot out the entire sun

imagine how dark a cloud how thick a swarm

has gotta be to look up and it feels like you’re never gonna see the light again

by 1902 that whole swarm the entire species was fully extinct

cattle hooves and wagon wheels and a few years of outward expansion

and the sun’s shining and the locusts are gone

extinct so long now that no living entomologist has seen one

so now it’s 2021 and the cicadas come every 17 years

but it seems like every year is the 17th year

and every year we hear about them coming

we are waiting with our breath held tight for the first screams


in late may? early June?

by the trillions

can they gather enough bodies in pregnant air and finally maybe just blot out the sun?

maybe this is the year the calendars align and the cicadas all come at once

a sunless summer to be pale and withery caught under a cloud of cicadas!

hold on baby it’s the next plague!

it’s the new york city lockdown sequel!

welcome to the roaring twenties

but the roar is all wings and air and the screams of the swarm

we are living in a world stuck on an earth where under our feet we

walk atop the growing bodies of the sound to fill us

for the next number of months until it grows cold and they all burrow down

to sleep for the winter and the next 17 years

i’ve learned to love them

the big ones with their screaming voices atop the trees

almost never come down

except to sprinkle shells like golden brown popcorn husks

gnarled crackly skin with legs akimbo

husks that my father used to hook onto the back of my shirt and leave there til

i grabbed it off hours later my eyes lolling mouth quiet w/ horror

crunch em under my feet to make sure they were dead

convincing myself they were never living while they touched me

once i saw one come out of its shell

pearly white in the sunshine legs folded in hardening through the day

Dracula rises from his coffin

i wanted so badly to be fascinated but

i hated it oh how i hated it i stared it down holding onto the mower

heard the growling sound of the engine felt the power of the swish of the blades

tipped it back and ripped that thing right up

felt guilty that night as i laid in bed listening to the screams

felt too much like family mourning a loved one

a violent death all cause i was too scared of that milk white

body rising from its own skin

all morning i’ve thought about the masses

the bugs are coming and i wonder if this summer we’re all gonna scream and fuck

or if we’ll even see the sun

maybe when it gets cold again

we’ll all crawl down together

haven’t been sleeping too well lately

keep waking up in the middle of the night so so cold

maybe that’s the answer

burrow down near the core let the earth radiate me

17 years surrounded by dirt and milky orange eyed blind

we’ll all go down together

fuck my 30s

maybe i’ll see the sun again when i’m 46

maybe i’ll rise up screaming.

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