According to my exterminator, weeds and bees rule  

the world. Especially in the state forest where I live.  

With its twelve-month pollen season. With its bees.  

So many bees. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, and  

wasps in spring and summer. Yellow jackets in  

summer and fall. But the yellow jackets are the  

worst. Always swarming. Always aggravating.  

Tonight, twenty cats and kittens from my feral  

colony huddle around food bowls on my back porch,  

feasting on dry cat food. Yellow jackets everywhere.  

Tiny sugar fiends. Always hungry. Forever addicted  

to the sugar in dry cat food. Six or seven of them  

crawling across each bowl. The cats don’t seem  

to mind. They just eat around them. But not tonight.  

Tonight, one of the kittens stops and looks at me,  

her cheeks bulging, her eyes startled. Oh. No.  

She ate a yellow jacket. I can see it. Bouncing  

around inside her mouth, banging against her cheeks.  

Panicked, she races toward the locked screen door  

on the porch. Now all the cats panic. All stampede  

the screen door, crashing through it. The door  

explodes. Like a bomb. Hurling shattered wood  

and screen into the air. Total. Chaos. Everywhere.  

And then it’s over. No door. No cats. No wood 

or sheets of screen raining down on fleeing cats.  

None of that. Just peace. Just the vibrating chant  

of chirping insects in the forest. Just a cluster  

of yellow jackets crawling across each bowl,  

doing whatever it takes to get their sugar fix. 

Laura Stamps is a narrative poet and the author of several books: THE YEAR OF THE CAT, IN THE GARDEN, CAT DAZE, TUNING OUT, and more. Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Shortlisted in the Loft Books Poetry Competition. Twitter: @LauraStamps16.   

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