Holocene Sonnet

i)         The bloom—the pretty part we want—is
ii)        often how a threatened plant screams help
iii)       Venus flytraps can be sedated.  
iv)       Therefore, they can wake & be made calm.  
v)        Lice hatch ravenous for blood & claw
vi)       linoleum one foot per minute. 
vii)      Mammoth sunflowers reseeded 
viii)     from previous diseased seasons sing 
ix)       the same sickness for generations.  
x)        Pepsis wasps haul tarantulas up 
xi)       mountainsides to provide warm  
xii)      meals for larvae. Imagine children 
xiii)     dragging men across highway lanes
xiv)     to eat them alive, thigh by thigh.


Copyright © 2023 by Lisa Fay Coutley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 21, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My third collection explores various parasitic relationships. A handful of those poems are rebel sonnets, such as this one, which uses Roman numerals to disrupt the form, interrupt its motion, and hold the syllabics—they are a part of the poem while also cutting it, a bit like a contrapuntal. I like the idea of severing a sonnet about parasitism as a way to refute the form’s history while pointing to its artifice.”
—Lisa Fay Coutley