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Backwards Bees

15 February 2011

Poets & Writers website’s poetry prompt for February 7 was to find a poem you’ve written and write it in reverse, using the last line as the first, second-to-last line second, and so on. I chose that poem I posted recently about the bees playing baseball, and it turned out to be an interesting read in reverse! I tweaked it a bit, adding punctuation, capitalizing a few words, and deleting a few “filler” words, and here is the result:

Until they sting, then fly away to die,
and racking up runs that don’t get tallied,
over and over it goes, rounding the bases.

New bees sent in as pinch runners, over
life, old bees veering off the baselines,
being found. This is the way they cycle through

during the game, and a substitute must be
important. Sometimes, a player will sting
too few to make winning or losing

teams. They don’t keep score—their years
and wear caps to distinguish between
play with traditional wooden bats,

be the bats, but it’s not like that. Bees:
one might suspect their stingers would
but now that I am, it’s quite a clear image.

Imagined bees playing baseball,
that it was a perfect pitch? I’ve never!
the ball whiz past, seeing too late

better to strike out swinging than watch,
better to die stinging than waiting—
And you die anyway? Would it have

but the human being does swat you?
The urge, that itch on your behind,
that is the question. And if you quell?

To sting or not to sting,
some brash human hand swatting;
use your weapon to retaliate against

your anger so you don’t accidentally
you must be, how controlled, to reign
target. Any flesh will do. How patient

sting. All you need is good aim and an easy
you could choose to end it all with a simple
way of living, to know that at any moment

he’s not ready to go? What a powerful
too late he hasn’t fulfilled his dreams yet,
that he now regrets, realizing one second

Was it a brash, in-the-moment action
brooding over its decision to sting?
To die. How long did the bee spend?
A bee stings his earlobe and zips away.

I’ll use this to revise the original poem, as its given me some insight into words and phrases that sound funky, and pointed out some places that need attention.

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