'Grasshopper' by John Kinsella | States of Poetry WA - Series Two

Grasshopper on the window, the flyscreen, and stepping out
into the beige heat, over us. Tangled in our hair, hooked to our backs.

Grasshopper, cod wisdom. Grasshopper contraband on the eye-
out for plagues. The Australian Plague Locust and its tendency

to shift character when gathered together. In worship. In parliament.
O phase polyphenism, in which morphology and social disposition

shift. And the ag department would repeal their identities, make
mass hate an organophosphate reality. But the green, all the green

we make in the loving monocultural fields will be stripped away.
But it’s post-harvest, almost, and the wheat ears and canola pods

have been beheaded. The granaries are full. Nuseed Monola
worshipped in the holy of the holies. But then, as day cauterises

night, the Gould’s Wattled Bat retreats into its hollow, chatting
with others in its quodlibet way, illustration of the glories of sound

in the boombox valley. Grasshopper activates, and hops past
the early crickets and katydids. I read to the boy Keats’s ‘On

the Grasshopper and Cricket’, only distantly relevant, and I read
to myself Volcán: Poems from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua

published by City Lights which was still radical in 1993, with Alejandro
Murguía’s plea in his introduction to American readers: ‘who could

act directly to stop the flow of military personnel and weapons ...
Those right-wing death-squads. That anthology thirty-three years ago.

Fables. La Fontaine. Grasshopper on the event horizon. And so many
of us here in a state of mumchance, locked in our anachronistic language

of debauch and abuse. In this age, this rise of global fascism. Beware
the Australian Plague Locust – native! The temerity of its Latin name,

the prejudice of its Wikipedia manifestation (‘significant agricultural
pest’), that first swarm recorded in the east, out of the east, 1844.

Prophecy. Francis Bacon thought so little of prophetic texts. Cut
to fit. And its grasshopper shape. Its colouring. That chiasmus of thorax,

that art we lock & load. I don’t know, Grasshopper, I don’t know.
I lack wisdom to render you unto discourse. Even to make you

as Biblical as you deserve. Holy text of annihilation. And now,
indoors, we watch you disperse, alone. Observing your solipsistic

truths. Your personal ontologies. Can I repeat what I heard
you saying to each other? ‘I don’t know, sister, and neither do you.’

Seemed wise. In the beds the nymphs will stir, awake to the poisons
then no more. The world is there to be fed. Worldly as we are. Mondanité.

And so ‘little difference’, or maybe so hard to tell, between locust
and grasshopper. And those swarms we must watch out for,

those swarms fought back with legislation, with a thesaurus of death.

John Kinsella