Termites – not a metaphor

Evidence of termites was found in my basement. Yes, I freaked out and yes, I've written a poem about them. Life is full of surprises, odd pleasures and horrors.


I found only the remnants of you

the tunnels you bore

the dust you left behind

a kind of brown I might have picked

for a skirt or a counter top


You brought your accompanist

the dirt, a parting gift

So much to carry

but you are committed. A careful packer


I was all set to revile you

sew on your label - House cancer

inject as much as I could afford to wipe out your legacy

refuse, without knowing you at all,

to support your rights

or respect your self-determination


Me, who stands so firmly against

treading ignorantly on difference I don’t understand


Perhaps we can split that difference

arrive at a dirt-filled middle ground

of respect

You with your purpose, your appetite

for my house

Me with my interest in having something left to sell one day


Eusocial oh highest level of communal organization

Labour divided among castes,

Producers of overlapping generations

Collective care takers of your young


The kibbutz movement has floundered

but you carry on for millennia

Claiming triumphs along the way

Functional society neither coup nor mutiny tears apart

Forward through castles, ships

220,000 dollars worth of Indian rupees

All proudly munched


When I learned that your king and queen mate for life

She with the possibility of 45 years on this planet

45 termite years that would rival Methuselah

but for my poisonous intervention

(I thought to inquire about monogamy

but decided to sustain my fantasy

of these near perfect beings)


One should never google the objects of one’s enmity

for fear of discovering the preclusion

to digging holes and flooding them with termination

But my morals and my needs will here not conflict

for my tiles are weeping and the inspector has made clear

that no chemicals can flow

into these Toronto pipes


I will not contemplate too long

the millions of birth control pills pissed into the water system

but will focus on the happy fact of empty tubes and long-gone guests

Off to woodier ground

leaving only pheromones (I could try to cover with Old Spice or Fabreeze)

to call them back.

I’ll be waiting.

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