An Abundance of Insects | Teen Ink

An Abundance of Insects

May 25, 2022
By erinkemper BRONZE, Franklin, Wisconsin
erinkemper BRONZE, Franklin, Wisconsin
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Hawk Moth Eyes

When one witnesses irises,

one can find beauty in

the deep ocean blues and the glow

of vibrant verdant;

one often forgets the beauty

of dull and dirty brown.

And for brown to be beautiful

it must be tainted with

golds and greens and hazels.

It must capture specks of sunlight

or harbor honeycomb.

It must never be just brown for

brown holds no beauty if

not with another hue.

But find wonder in hawk moth eyes.

Bask in the warmth of

the first sip of morning coffee.

Take delight in the swirling of

whiskey and sugar cream.

Breathe in the sight of the oaks trees

that stand old and mighty.

For brown is the color of the

unfettered earth and the

spines of leather-bound books.

It is the sleek coat of roe deers

and the feathers of pheasants.

It is the weaving of wicker,

the amber of maples.

It is everything everywhere 

and it lives all as one

in the eyes of those born from the

earth and the wild.

So find wonder in the eyes that

flutter like meadow browns

but churn the very ground and bring

old cities to their knees.

For where others find ugliness

in the mundanity of brown,

love hawk moth eyes like the sunlight,

common but beautiful thing.



Honey Bees

When my memory summons it

I recall my mother’s

fear of bees and flying insects.

Her eyes would widen when she saw

the bugs and their buzzing.

I would watch her panic and run

I learned to do the same.

I wasn’t afraid of the bees

but my mind had learned to

copy my mother and her fear

its sticks to me like the residue

of cooled honey in herbal tea

And like my mother’s fear of bees

I take bits of pieces from others

and I make them my own.

I cover my yawns like my best friend

after many long movie nights.

My laughs come out in sputtered gasps

 like the YouTubers I spend too long watching.

I tilt my head in confusion 

like the Maltipoo I used to dogsit

and I twirl my pencil before every test

like my 7th-grade lab partner

did in hopes of good luck.

Like strands of spiders silk

I am a web of what I’ve learned

like an unintentional copycat

But where others see a jumbled mess

of thoughts and words and actions

that are not my own,

I see the reflection of those

who have affected my life

I am the amalgamation of 

the people I share my life with.

Little pieces of chipped off glass 

that form their own beautiful mural

of unique identity

pasted together with honey

from little honeybees.

And as long as these bees remain

more than twenty feet away

in all directions,

In this, I am quite content.




In sweet sunlight under the tree

full of Japanese maple leaves

I would turn over broken bricks

and search for worms.

My eyes skim muddy soil

and lock on the wriggling lines

and oh so gently I take the Annelida

and hold it in my palm.

My friends would gag and scream

at the sight of little worms

they’d run away in fear

as I watched in confusion.

In colorful August classrooms

I would witness small spiders

explore the cinder block walls

with legs like the finest acrobats.

I would watch with wide eyes

and quivering lips as a classmate

would squish them with his math book

while others watched and laughed.

The thought had never occurred,

had never been brought to mind

that one could delight in callous indifference

towards those who mean no harm.

So like Hamlet says “wormwood”

to the actors on stage

I say wormwood to false faces

who step on ants and pull 

the feeble wings of butterflies.

I say wormwood to the killers

of spiders and beetles

to those whose kindness runs out 

when with the smallest of all.

For in a world so cruel 

I delight in the details

in the beauty of beetles

and the artistry of Insecta.

And under exoskeleton,

I maintain my steady softness

for kindness is not weakness

and sensitivity is not a fault.

So let me find peace 

with the winged and the worms

in the blankets of soil and moss.

For if the world will make me choose,

I choose the beauty in being kind.


The night air is cold as I watch the fireflies

palms grip wood railing loosely,

subconsciously preventing splinters 

Wind chimes sing softly and window panes

reflect the bioluminescent ballet below.

The noise of the party becomes muddled

as my eyes scan the glowing grass

the cacophony of congratulations

and the incursions of inquiries,

each question and query a 

painful prompting of my brain

that this party presents itself as

an end and a beginning.

For when autumn leaves supersede summer sun 

and high school halls are replaced by lecture rooms

I find myself at the threshold of something new

and how frightful that thought comes to be.

But as an artist, I must find beauty in the unsightly

and paint a picture free of fear

as a musician, I must resolve discordant keys

to create an appealing piece,

but I don’t know if I can do that.

When the road ahead is shrouded in shadows

and the heat of summer’s humid air

I have only the fireflies to guide me,

whose humble light marks my sense and sufficiency.

I have but mere moments of clarity 

brief flashes of feelings that tell me 

that I am on the right path.

That I am doing something right.

How am I to believe in my destination

when my path is transitioning from

familiar faces to unknown expectations

climbing higher than ever before?

But there’s beauty in the firefly light,

even if for brief moments, light fills

every inch of the grass blade radius

before fluttering away.

Life goes by like firefly light

in and out in a mere moment,

so one must take note of the glow

and enjoy the insect’s show.

Maybe at this moment, at this time,

surrounded by transitions and changes

as fast and fleeting as firefly light,

I take a breath, and calmly enjoy

this sweet summer night.



The Bug Collector: 

(Written as a poetic version of the Bug Collector of Haley Heynderickx)

Along the mossy carpet

I observe a centipede

shivering along the floorboards

you tell me its a monster

the fear plagues you

A praying mantis waltzes beside

and prattles, proud as a priest

and you pull the covers over your head

the sheets are lined with moss and fungus

and the fear plagues you

A millipede rattles along

a vengeful malice among the greenery

and the fear plagues you

and it plagues me too

and I digress

In jars along the windowsill,

I place the centipede, the praying mantis, the millipede

I let them shiver and prattle and rattle in the sunlight

I gently pull the covers

and I see your face

and the fear plagues you

and it plagues me too

but where you see the monsters and the priests and the vengeance

I see the beauty of the world

the myriad of all life’s good and evil

So come and see the sunlight

as I make you a new morning

unwrap yourself from your mossy blanket

and greet the monsters as friends

the jars twinkle in the sunlight, how beautiful they are

and although you tremble, I’ll make sure you see it too

as I, the Bug Collector, try my best

to prove there’s nothing out to get you.

The author's comments:

My set of poems under the title of “An Abundance of Insects”, offers insight into all different areas of my life under one similar theme. I wanted to consider how beauty can be found in the most mundane or least appealing aspects of life. Beauty is found in the most common parts of ourselves, in the ways people affect us, in the kindness we show others, in the big changes in our lives, and in the ways we perceive the world around us. The topic of insects also is prevalent in each poem, including the title of each individual poem. This is because I’ve always had a fascination with insects and other creepy crawlies, something that isn’t often shared by my peers. I saw beauty in bugs, something that others would find insignificant, or even revolting, so I thought this would be a good lens to look at my theme through. I enjoyed writing these poems and letting myself be creative with my word choice and sentence structure.

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