The Beetle
     after Jose Pacheco

You, like all of us, are what you conceal.
Inside your horned helicopter
you hide and suffer,
infamous in your exile. Prized
for your craft that we try in vain to imitate

in gold and amber,
you survive baiting, outrun and elude us,
we, your assassins, who cannot follow into the wall,
veldt of circuitry or Jacob’s ladders,
this, your solitary confinement
from which you escaped. Winged and on the run,

you entered illegally, the humblest of eaters
pursued by flashlights searching London flats,
chased into floorboards and dreaming
there to engorge yourself on chicken marrow,
hair of a woman who bought her lover’s freedom
with letterhead and forging,
lint and nail clippings,
underground palace of discarded excess.

Poor, you never sought to become a rascal,
thief, or tax evader. Your mouth hooked and clutched,
secreting a hardening cloak
as instinct instructed. No ambition
could sustain that artist in you
to fulfill the task for which you were born:
an asylum out of your own body

metamorphosing the worm
who curls in all of us who envy
such rapid success, perfected artifice
that, if an autopsy, would reveal nothing about you
that hasn’t been pestered
or riddled by schoolchildren, judges,
barbers who cannot betray your anonymity
or inform upon your green card stash.

Programmed by shadows, struck dumb yet knowing
to scuttle a deathblow missing,
you do not fear
that kind of death. You have survived it
as you reported to the benefit gala,
the pearl-strung collarbone enchanted by
your poise and sung resurrection.

Born and cradled in a ball of shit,
no longer a trespasser but a guest of honor,
you hum from a scroll
silencing the waitstaff who once pitied you
but now mutter
you were always untouchable.

Our mumbler, how you alter the story!
Who can rival you in strategic confusion?
Pest because we cannot surpass nor kill
nor ignore you.
Neither an insect nor bird,
you exist in pure imagination.

Your reputation will last
long after the house is dismantled,
its fixtures stripped and auctioned, its metal
hinges scrapped, bricks sold in a yard
then reused for respectable establishments
where the threat of your possibility
will compel precautions

though you disappear again through a ceiling crack
into the darkness with which we wall ourselves
but cannot go. How we hate you for it
and spread rumors of your disease,
though we admire your rage to outlive and,

like you, are what we conceal.