Green Hills Literary Lantern



Ladybugs, Where Are You?



Ladybugs, where are you?

Aphids are sucking the life out of our chard

while their ant accomplices mock us,

grooming one another in underground chambers,

and wagging contented antennae in a salute

to their queen who adores her larger-than-life image

in the convex shimmering mirrors

of the polished bodies of her immense domestic staff.


Ladybugs, did your spots wear off in the winter rains?

Did your wings wilt and fall in the dog-day heat?

Did your microscopic breathing pores clog

with hydrocarbon particles in the bruised air?


Not one of you has greeted me since last September.

Not of you surprised me tickling up a sleeve,

or spiraled along the tendrils of the scarlet runner beans

that counterclockwise climb the trellis twines.


I beg you on bended knee to visit soon.

It’s an old knee far less flexible than yours.

Our chard begs too. It weeps in supplication,

oozing tiny teardrops through its wilted leaves.





Bob Schildgen was managing editor of Sierra, the Sierra Club’s magazine, and is long-time author of its popular column, Ask Mr. Green. He has written hundreds of articles for underground papers, mainstream magazines, and academic journals. His poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review; Occupoetry; Defenestration; Eastern Iowa Review, Under a Warm Green Linden; Imitation Fruit; The Kerf,  and elsewhere. A native of Wisconsin’s west coast, he now gardens in Berkeley, California.