many times we are stung, by juliet cook and martin willitts jr

The killer wasps are heading here,
and I want to protect the beehive
in my backyard, near the yellow coneflowers.

I’ve heard praying mantises will hunt the wasp
and tear them apart with their red pincers.
I imagine them in a Japanese monster movie,
gigantic, stepping over matchbox houses,
snapping lobster claws at flying buzz-planes
of wasps. I am the one who called forth
this ancient protector out of an extinct volcano.
I just hope I can control my summoned monster,
but the incantation catalog is vague.

What to do next. The air raid shrieks
aren’t helping me to concentrate
and the kids in the back seat look paralyzed
and the fear is changing our skin color.
Our fingers look constantly stung
and soon to be ripped into pieces.

The praying mantises are driving matchbox cars,
slamming each other to death.
Then the headless ones are behind the wheels of humans
and will soon be coming to get us all,
to fill the landscape with broken
cracked vehicles, bodies with heads bitten off
and spit out and it’s our own fault.

We’re the ones who let the predators grow larger,
until the insects became guillotines
with countless heads foaming out of their mouths.

Seventeen weeks later, a certain leader stung
and swollen, sitting behind a pile of one page reports
he never read, finally gets the news
from the Fiendish Fox Wearing Fedora Network,
and says, “who knew that killer wasps existed?
Nobody told me.”

yellow and black wasp perched on green leaf
Photo by Egor Kamelev on

Juliet Cook is brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at

Martin Willitts Jr lives in Syracuse, New York. He has won numerous awards and prizes for poetry. He has won grants to place bi-lingual poetry inside of buses from Adult English as a Second Language Students. He has 26 chapbooks including two national contest winners, and 20 full-length collections including two national contest winners. He is an editor for The Comstock Review, and a judge for the New York State Fair Poetry Contest.

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