Warmer and warmer
creep the late Januarys,
disturbed beauty of

precocious flowers,
the ease of a year’s first swim.
Pulsing in their silk

tent in the tree’s crotch
the pine processionaries
begin to emerge

head to tail to head
to tail, inevitable
as cause and effect,

the rungs of numbers.
Column of janissaries,
they pour like roller

coasters or compound
centipedes, devouring more
range each year, feeders

on forests. The pines
surrender to them hands up.
Yes they’re venomous:

urticating hairs
spike the wind, skin irritant
or worse – eyes or nose

suddenly aflame,
fine spines sucked into the lungs.
Yes I’m allergic,

I want to torch them
in their womblike bivouacs,
crush their doom parade

smack in the middle,
smear the alternating feet,
rows of syllables;

but it won’t stop their
relentless progress, like one
angry thought after

another from the
brain’s woolly cocoon. If I
could only rewind

the fevered forecast,
I too could love these flowers

so near the solstice,
this New Year’s swim in skin-soft
pellucid floating.

If only I could
shake this nest of obsessive
stings, all consuming,

maybe I could wake
those damsels in dishabille,
the demented Hours.

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