by Bruce McAllister

When the big bees that eat wood come flying out
of the dead tree in the canyon, looking like felons
because they’re orange instead of black,
and the bug people at the local university tell you,
“That’s not possible—they’re never orange.
You must be imagining things”— 

Or a tiny triangular clam the color of an African herbivore
manages to conquer the Great Lakes and other
large American bodies of water, and turns out not to be
from Asia at all and driven by no goal
other than tedious procreation— 

Or that luscious vine (not the one you’re thinking of)
covers a block-long junkyard in Tennessee in only
two months because it and its brothers are under
the mistaken impression that old
dead rusty cars somehow matter to us— 

Or (and this one you know as well as I do) something comes
to your house in the night. You can’t see it. It takes
one of your socks, but not both, takes another (but not both),
then crawls under the beds of your children to terrify them
and yet never ever comes out to “get” them— 

When you see these things, you know
that some alien civilizations just aren’t as smart
or fast or emotionally invested as others—that, in fact,
what you’ve grown up with your whole life,
what you love about this world, is actually just them
trying their damnedest to invade a planet
even if they’ve forgotten why.

Copyright © 2017 by Bruce McAllister



Featured Poet of the Month Bruce McAllister

Some decades ago Bruce McAllister was a poet and the associate editor of a respected West Coast poetry litmag.  He’s writing poetry again.  His short fiction has recently appeared or will be appearing in ALBEDO ONE, ANALOG, DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, LIGHTSPEED, THE DARK, and elsewhere. 

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