Deer flies

The clover and the sandburs make their peace
with deer flies with a sip of sweet nectar
and some pollen to carry to the neighbor.

The swallows thrive on flies, touching each
in mid-air like the tip of a whip.

We humans offer them our blood
for their gift of wisdom.
A long walk teaches all you need to know.
The dancing swarm behind your knees
gives you a quicker pace, shows
suffering and joy are proportioned
to the attention you give them.
Breathe the free breeze.
Pick the cottonwoods by their voices,
the orioles and buntings by their flash.
Once a mile a hot stab at the cuff of your sock
is all the reminder you need.
The flies are not what you walk for.
Slap it, turn your eyes to the treetops and
whatever you do keep moving. If you stop

to face the flies, you’ll kill a few.
Stay still long enough and the flies will leave.
They plague only the quick, the moving.

The shadow sweeping across yours
tells you the vultures are interested.
Your choice. Flies or vultures?
Moving or still?

Turn around. Face the road. Something
will catch you, but let it be unawares.

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About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
This entry was posted in poems. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Deer flies

  1. Susan says:

    Good poem. . . . and my favorite lines are
    “suffering and joy are proportioned
    to the attention you give them.”
    Something we’ve been talking about a lot lately, it seems.
    S

  2. bryonc says:

    This is Frostian, and yet I can hear it in Rod Serling’s voice — something he might say to close out a “Twilight Zone.” I don’t know what that means, but I like it more each time I read it.

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