The Drone

flees the hive’s darkness ahead of the swarm
to follow a queen flying past in the sun.
He lands midair on her back,

wraps his legs around her belly, thrusts
inside until his hook catches hold;
then she rips from his body

his seed—a part of her majesty as she flies off.
And the drone falls away:
dismembered thing,

twirling, like a leaf set free, wings whirling.
Before he can ever learn
what falling means,

a robin,
drab as his death,
closes around him her dark beak.

Travis Poling is interested in how the human spirit and body interact with the wild places that surround us, especially through language and ritual. His poetry has appeared in Alba, CrossCurrents, DreamSeeker, and most recently in an anthology celebrating the poet William Stafford. He grew up in southern Pennsylvania and lives in central Indiana where he teaches college composition and wanders the trails. He edits the William Stafford Online Reader at, and keep a blog at

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