Poetry Series: Maine: Wildlife Management in the Anthropocene; In the Dark; Rescuing Caterpillars on Birch Avenue; Gypsy Moths

By Lucia Owen 


Maine: Wildlife Management in the Anthropocene

1. Euthanizing Canada Geese

No one really wants to, not the State guys
or the Selectmen, but no other way
to keep the tourists from stepping
in the goose shit or local business
losing money because of it.

No one to scoop it or hose it or use it
or say Watch Your Step. Geese here
since the end of the last ice age
have adapted admirably
to human habitat.

The geese follow the careful trail
of cracked corn family by family,
goslings in the order hatched
walk precisely in line between
their parents to an unnamed site

where in some unnamed way
not wounded, diseased or rabid
they will die to remove
the slippery inconvenience
of their shit.

2. Black Bear Hunting Referendum

We keep bumping into bears
invading our habitat.
Tentacled twining suburbs,
rich and fragrant garbage cans
and the sweet greasy smell of burgers
dripping fat onto charcoal
lure bears.
For our own safety we vote to extend
black bear hunting by a month.

3. Eradicating the Winter Tick
Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis Counties 

Is it good management practice
to remove the host of a parasitic
species? Winter ticks have killed
more than half the moose calves
born each spring, sucking their blood
until they slowly die.
Adult moose host the winter tick.

4. Euthanizing Canada Geese
at the former Mercy Hospital, Portland 

When the shit got to be
too much and people complained
the game warden or whoever
herded the geese into something
and took them somewhere
and maybe used gas.
At night.
No one saw.

More geese, not understanding
inconvenience or mercy,
appeared the next day.


In the Dark

One eye
in my headlights –
cheek ear antler shoulder
slam against me –

I hyperventilate
hit the brakes hit the dirt,
expect an animal bleeding,
leg broken, thrashing in the road.
But nothing.

Above the dent gray-brown hair
clumped in the door handle
all that’s left. A friend ties flies,
wants the hair. I
pop out the dent.

Broken ribs, punctured lung
the deer’s death all that’s left
after the sad, sad collision
of our ways.


Rescuing Caterpillars on Birch Avenue

When I walk there I try to save them from the steamy asphalt river,
The squish of pulp trucks and the school bus.

They drop everywhere from nowhere and squirm and wriggle
With pure Purpose every which way.

It’s hard to tell where they’re headed.
I break bracken fronds and lure each one up

And shake it off in the roadside jungle
Where it may – or may not – escape the birds.

Most words are longer than they are. I admire
Each one, exquisite in its minute plumage.

Mottled green, silky hairs, pairs of orange dots
That undulate along its underside like tiny treads.

Splotchy camouflage, naked segmented skin –
Any bigger and you’d scream and run.

White, black back diamonds, bristles on a tiny bottlebrush.
Hard to tell which end is which until it moves.

Harder to imagine what ephemeral winged thing
Each will become and how.

Hardest to know what may come to crush us or what
Can rescue us or who or what we will become.


Gypsy Moths

Too hairy for any bird to eat
their caterpillars squirm and swarm
up the sides of my house, my car
defecate tiny green pellets that patter
in continual rain from the trees
they are defoliating, leave streaks
of green slime when I sweep
and hose them off daily. I am defending
Rome against the Goths.

Gypsy Moth – subtle mottled brown,
small, antennae delicate as fern fronds
or hummingbird feathers. Squashing one
leaves a gentle puff, an imprint
of life in moth fur.

Upstairs I stop counting one day
at 50 crowding the windows
clinging to curtains, dying behind doors.
I take the vacuum cleaner, suck them in
out of mid-flutter. Moth Buster. I plug
the vac hose so none escape.

Undulating hordes of caterpillars continue
to devour my trees leaf by leaf. Insatiable
they feed to fuel their metamorphosis
into something almost pretty but are really

The vanguard of invasions sure to come
Brown Tailed Moth Emerald Ash Borer
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, waves and
winds and fires as I stand here
and wield my feeble broom.