A swarm of hornets can cause hundreds of stings

& in comparison everything seems small now but 

I remember gasping when I witnessed

a wasp nest fall from the sky, damaging & denting

a paper husk, & my father I remember shouted run,

& any scars from that moment have been surgically &

forcibly removed. My skin is clear in the midnight moon

so brightly casting shadows in the streets, I can see the sky

from here. I usually don’t look up & here I am imprisoned

by a thousand tiny stars, marking the distance to civilization,

tenement lights at the edge of a long dark river, I scream,

& it echoes. Someone screams back, a shriek piercing,

a shriek exploding across the bay, shriek that whimpers

when alone, shriek that has nobody to speak to. I do

not listen & move on. & I’ve watched each 

of my friends left here fall into addiction & drudgery, 

shooting up in bathroom stalls, bragging about it later,

morphine isn’t as good as fucking, though, & every lawn

is mowed tight to the ground, & there is a sterile air

hanging above us, poached & parched by meth labs,

propped up by a scarecrow, land outstretched

for miles.

A black and white portrait photograph of the poet Noah David Roberts.

Noah David Roberts is a non-binary poet based in Philadelphia, PA. Roberts is the author of 6 collections, including Mutable Forests (Kith Books, 2023). Since publication of their first book, Roberts has been published in Bullshit Lit, Tribes Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and more. In 2022, Roberts won the Judith Stark poetry contest. They are a 2023 Pushcart nominee and host the monthly reading Scribes on South. You can learn more on Instagram at @the.apocalypse.poet.