Sphecius speciosus, you’re shocking, sickish!
How you paralyze cicadas with venom,
drag your victims down ground tunnels,
lay eggs under trembling wings
so your babies can grow up
munching on slow death!

From above, your nest looks
a pile of regurgitated worm.
My toddler can’t help herself
from reaching under the stairs
to grab a handful. I say no touch
and she chants ucky ucky,
our call and response for wild mushrooms
and neighbor’s cat’s poop.

I’m running behind her at all times
with shovel and plastic bag
to tidy the sandbox, clean the baby pool,
weed the flowerbed of fungi and feces.
But she keeps sticking her small hands
through the slats, to you.

I concede. You pollinate my zinnias,
control the cicada population,
and your intricate nest shows careful family planning.
But— sorry, Edward O. Wilson—
it’s ungodly to lock up your prey in a cell,
nurture it just enough
that when your children are born,
they can eat it alive!

So it’s with gloved hand
I pour scalding water
laced with borax and sugar
into your home.
If you and your family
are not drowned or burned alive,
the sweetness— a mother knows—
will draw you to the poison,
and put an end to all
that’s uncivilized.

Caroline N. Simpson’s chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventures and Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She was a 2020 Established Artist Fellow in Poetry through the Delaware Division of Arts, and has thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry and nonfiction. carolinensimpson.com