Stinger and Shovel

With foreleg and mandible
a wasp, thread-waisted, daubs
and trowels small globes of mud
on a joist among the rafters till
with a spade’s square edge I chisel
his embryo to clods.

We each in our way emit a cry
or buzz of things accomplished—
but the same primal joy
in what we shape or demolish?
Triumph shines through blemishes
of ethical decay
like a smog-maddered sun or burnish
of an abraded loy.

The qualm sheathed, our victor nests
on a porch, his idle lance
a hymn of peace—how sublime
must be the loss for him to blame
what he’s driven to do? All quests
have their ocelli of reference.

Michael Sandler writes and works as an arbitrator in Seattle. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Forge, Fourteen Hills, Willow Review, Caveat Lector, Poetica, Off the Coast, The Puritan, and Peregrine.