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The praying mantis walks on water
and blesses its dinner.
In this way it is Christ-like
(pending smooth digestion of a sinner).

First there is the little minuet, fluted dance
for the senses, then the sudden Tierce
de Picardie, a fierce, tectonic shift in tenses,
the jarring reversal of all his hopes and chances.

The lady proves love indeed breaks your heart,
hollows the chamber, but first it pincer-squeezes
the poor boy’s head, it being the most succulent part,
leaving the green chitin skeleton still appeasing
the murderous amour he was created to endure.

Here’s the lottery that love was designed to lose,
yet still he preens like an altar boy into the lady’s noose.
She cups him, not tenderly, in her reverent grip
and then dabs the spittle from benedictory lips.


Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights lawyer from Alabama. Her work has been recognized or published by about 30 journals or publishing houses in 2018 and 2019. She was selected for 64 Best Poets in 2018 and has been nominated for 50 Best New Poets in 2019. She was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize. She is a member of the Academy of American Poets. She now lives in St. Louis with her family, which includes three rescue hounds.

© 2019, Pamela Sumners



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