Poetry: Christmas Beetles | clivejames.com
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Christmas Beetles

Outside, the afternoon is ringing,
ringing, massed cicadas singing out
their silly news.  The hot
brown garden’s loud
with all their gossipmongering.

The insect grapevine —
shrill bush telephone —
incessant beetle headlines
shrieked into the heat.

Like our old radiogram,
its fizzing, whistling, wheezing,
as we ease the big ribbed knob
and line the red bar up,
with news from Moscow, Greece, 
Lourenço Marques.

These noisy chaps are closer,
sounding off from somewhere near.
The jacaranda, or the orange trees,
we can’t be sure.
They are everywhere,
and nowhere, sly cicadas,
no-one can decipher them.

Or was it just the sound
of sticky tarmac, shimmering?
Who knows? Perhaps the noonday shouting
never was that clamorous.
Our tricky memory contrives
and always turns the volume up

and in the end I guess
that they were merely stuck
at fundamentals, needle jumping,
at the prod of sex, or simply whooping
— summer! summer! summer! —
every minute of their short, hot beetle lives.