still in my contemplative mood
i often participate the dawn
on the roof of the leader building
many of my neighbors
do the same we are all good
company a few well mannered mice
some junebugs a rat who likes to be left alone
plenty of intelligent sparrows
and best of all even though
many pigeons come whose intentions
toward me may not be entirely
honorable at least
there are no cats

our roof terrace receives frequent
guests from the great world out yonder
stopping for a rest on their way
god knows where
not long ago i made the acquaintance
of a canadian soldier bug
he said long ago his kind
visited erie s southern shore
in vast numbers
the smoke from the mills in
the old days decimated his tribe and
put a stop to their invading
he told me how one of his
forefathers a ranking general
designed a personal protest
against man s inhumanity to bugs

a night game in july it was
against the first place tigers
with seventy thousand watching
under the lights
in the big lakefront stadium
this great leader of bugs
sacrificed himself for democracy
by flying down the throat of bob feller
just as he was stretching back to
pour a fastball past hank greenberg
in the ninth

the game was stopped
after some discussion the umpire
declined to call a balk while
seventy thousand souls wondered in silence
what meant this prodigy
our hopes were high when
the public address announced
a canadian soldier
had wrought the deed
gandhi himself had not offered as much
then we learned a bitter lesson
about humanity as we flew
around the stadium
and saw how not a single
person in attendance seemed to
appreciate the gesture it was
lost on them nobody asked
why
and we heard voices in the crowd
murmuring it was only a bug
only a bug
feller warmed up and the game carried on

that s a sad story was all
i could say
don t get mad boy get even
twanged a rustic stranger in a remarkably
loud suit of red and black stripes
howdy stranger i said

i m a colorado beetle
colorado pete he twanged
and now as i sees it
no good ever come from human beins
well some bugs take their lumps
and some bugs stand and fight
we got numbers and brains on our side
with that he pulled some backy
from a chesterfield butt for a chaw

i thought farmers used tobacco
to keep you beetles away i said
kin if they wants to he replied
we earned our stripes we re tough
and there s nothin we like better
than some bald headed old farmer
what thinks he kin beat us
humans dance to our tune
while them fool settlers were trekkin
west to colorado to plant us potatoes
half of us were out winning the east
for the red and black team
we like our taters so much
we ll go anywhar to get em
i read my history and i knows
ain t caesar nor alexander nor cyrus nor
pharaoh nor nimrod ever conquered
what we conquered
just look what we done to them irish
and you ll see what bugs can do
we ve been all round the world
why my grandpa told us stories of
his uncle phil who liked the cold
he was the bug what first settled
the antarctic wastes phil made a
go of it but he finally
gave up his claim and came back with
admiral byrd
he was with him in the tickertape parade
down broadway too

they say china s the promised land now
them chinese plant billions of taters
and someone s got to eat em
the sky s the limit i m fixin
to get up a party of settlers
get in first and you
can make yourself a big man
in a new territory
grow up with the country like they say
someday we ll be runnin all asia
and i ll send you boys a postcard

and just as this talkative insect
was puffing up his sails for the
coda to his soliloquy
the rat who likes to be left alone
padded up behind him and
gobbled him up
the rat seemed to grimace a bit
as he swallowed pete and he followed his repast
by downing the rest of the butt
for a digestivo as he slumped
away he said to nobody in particular
i guess that changes the course
of history
and with that concisely
stated judgement he disappeared
back into the drainpipe

archy

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