Plague of Crickets

by Mark Seidl

The mayor issues
magnifying glasses
to the mothers who
give them to the children
and the children sweep
playground and park
and every vacant
lot. Whether
their tears come
from sadness or
joy or the smoke
of burning carapace
their fathers cannot
say or won’t.

Mark Seidl lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where he works as a rare-books librarian—the best job in the world! His poems have appeared in several print and online journals, including New Delta Review, decomp, and Cease, Cows.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Plague of Crickets”?

    “Plague of Crickets” is one of an ongoing series that includes, so far, plagues of owls, gunslingers, kung fu masters, and major and minor demons. This poem grew in part from my memory of a long-past moment when I, as a young boy, indulged in an act of petty, childish cruelty involving a magnifying glass. Now, as an adult and parent, I recall that moment whenever I encounter the often breathtaking thoughtlessness of children who are learning the hard way—what other way is there?—how to be compassionate human beings. No doubt other impulses (dreads? anxieties?) of which I’m less aware lurk behind “Plague of Crickets,” but I hope the strange alchemy of poetry gives this little piece a life beyond its immediate origins.
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