Moneilema gigas

Cactus longhorn beetle

Kimi Eisele



Dear Mr. Moneilema gigas:


I saw you there – amidst the spines

Where only wrens can sing

Your slick-black back I recognized

your crouch, your antennary wings


The way you carried on for days

So full of import green

Devouring flesh ‘twixt bristled maze

faster than I’d ever seen


I pretended not to notice you

Ignored your horse-like face

But still I sensed your steppings

like drops, like chills, like lace


Your lingering was odd, the damp

had left its last imprint

the light now casts its certain slant

and you –there!– still gorging on the mint


Your delight my Echinopsis

framed by my window, there

its single bloom once saved me

from a springtime of despair


I might have left you to continue

Natural order I too revere

Deciding who eats what, and what eats whom

holds up a ghastly mirror


We humans hate for one to lose

the pretty ones their room

But what right have I –a woman!– to choose

the beetle or the bloom?


Why not a lovely lady bug

red wings with stories and flight?

Or even your cousin, Eleodes Pinacate

who turns upside down in fright?


You! You have no handstand or perfumed dance

Your wings are fused and useless

Your gluttony alone your sentence

I did not ask to choose this.


For today I stepped outside my home

and stopped in frightful cower

I saw you were no more alone

then – Oh! – a ghost, my favorite flower!


The morning light cast from the east

Dionysian debauchery at dawn

You had mounted one just like yourself,

while another gnawed, besotted, on


To one of you I might have granted

permission to stay the hibernation

But three of you? – One chomping rampant,

And two in fornication!


Such gourmandizing I could not ignore

So clear what spring would bring

No large white blossom anymore

But hundreds of hungry moneleimini


I knew right then the time had come

God, for a moment I’d be

I went inside to get the tongs

And plucked you – One! Two-three!


Down the block I carried you all

Safe in Tupperware

Released you in an empty lot

Full of prickly pear


Neither protest nor complaint you spoke of

When I moved you from your plate

All hunger sated? Or was it love

That stuck you to your mate?


Who can say if tomorrow you’ll notice

Once you come apart to snack

That you’ve lost your favorite cactus,

and that I, gladly, gained mine back.




Kimi Eisele is a writer, dancer/choreographer, and educator. She is currently working on a novel set in the aftermath of a severe economic collapse. She also co-directs NEW ARTiculations Dance Theatre, a modern dance company that makes dances about important things and sometimes performs them in unusual places. Her inventory poem was inspired by a three-month visit with the ghost of Emily Dickinson.