Poem of the Day

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Crusader Beetle

by Helen Hagemann

 

She is not the Japanese beetle

who devastates rows of basil plants;

 

that brown and black fellow chomping

circles in your garden spaghetti herbs.

 

She is not elongated, black and lemon-tipped

like Soldier beetle who swarms in number

 

spring and summer; gardeners anxious they’re

plaguing Melbourne. Crusader beetle is not

 

bejeweled in topaz, emerald or sapphire

like Jewel beetle. Nor is she the roller

 

of poop like Dung beetle, ready to squeeze

her offspring inside (like famous Alexander

 

Beetle’s matchbox) reducing methane as she

dillies away on a cow pat in less than twenty-four

 

hours. No! Crusader beetle is neither of these,

but a “Joan of Arc” carrying her bannered symbol

 

on a bluish back. A cross in clear salute, as if

she is proud of her history, out there warring

 

against predators, her pink and grey feelers

tapping out miles travelled between home and

 

Acacia bloom, wing-pads blazoned with that

repellent X, proliferating Indonesia, the Indo-

Pacific, or at home, her hind femur and inner
teeth ready to slay Australia’s backyard weeds.

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