Grant Clauser

Ode to Hellgrammites
by Grant Clauser

A hellgrammite is the larval form of the Dobson fly, and one of the ugliest things you’ll find in fresh water.

To river bass, you’re Turkish Delight.
To everything else, you’re
the river’s dank nightmare,
a larval thing that crawls
under bedrocks that have
never seen the light of day.
You’re no Tiger, Tiger
burning bright, but
some fearful hand’s
mad lab experiment.
If the hand that made the lamb
made you, you thanked it
with a bite that drew blood.
You’d pull teeth
from a gift horse’s mouth.
Oh mandible, oh prolegs,
oh stench of undermud and fish guts,
cross between Mothra, Jabba the Hut
and Maine’s meanest lobster,
when I twist your fleshy tail
onto fishhook, crack
your exoskeleton armor
with a sharpened barb,
don’t get mad, get even.
Light the river bass’
hunger with your sticky gills.
Be the bait that gives 100 percent
by taking the bass
down with you.
But if you survive
and make that change
to heaven’s fallen butterfly,
know that every sin
your body’s marked with
will shed one night
under a summer’s full moon
when you finally spread
your wings
like weeping willows
and hunt instead
from the sky.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 3.

Grant ClauserGrant Clauser is the author of two poetry books, Necessary Myths (Broadkill River Press 2013) and The Trouble with Rivers (Foothills Publishing 2012). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Good Man Project, Painted Bride Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review and others. He also writes about electronics, teaches poetry at random places and chases trout with a stick. His blog is

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