West Spotted Lyme Nile Fever Disease

by Myles Weber (July 2023)

Figure in the Forest
, David Rosen


The ticks are out in force
this spring. So I endorse
a policy of sheer
annihilation. Let’s clear
the woods of brush and trees,
bring insects to their knees
by gassing with impunity.
Folks are lacking unity
on how to handle pests
around these parts. The guests
from out of state confer
and find that they prefer
accommodation. They
can’t comprehend the way
bacteria or, worse,
a virus lays a curse
on healthy rural men.
But what about the children?
whine the weak of heart
only once they start
a baseless rumor aimed
at sentimental, maimed,
or vapid minds. When actual
threats arise, the factual
basis for a firm
response is quashed, the germ
allowed to spread its blight.
The neighbor on my right
once watched his beagle face
a pack of coyotes, race
in vain toward home, but lose
its final brawl. So choose
your poison: death, or life
with compromises. Rife
with moral quandaries, our
existence (but an hour
upon the stage) requires
of us some base desires
for mere survival. Well
my neighbor came to tell
me what his righteous stand
on nature is—the land
is theirs. We’re trespassing.
His dog is dead, but gassing
lethal pests offends
his moral sense and sends
him off. I tried to reason
with the man. This verdant season
requires that we build
a case to give these weak-willed
urban dwellers a sense
of human worthiness.
Say a cougar ate your child.
Would you then feign a mild
response since God or nature
placed that cougar here? Sure,
we humans showed up later.
You’re expecting men to crater
when confronted with far
from solid logic. Are
the apples of God’s eye
now counted on to die
without a whimper?
a bit my neighbor wore
a mask of contemplation.
With further calculation
came his tart reply:
There is no God. Deny
yourself that foolish crutch.
(Non sequitur, that much
was obvious.) I see
as nature’s due. The health
of every land, the wealth
of species left to greet
our progeny, must meet
with nature’s strict approval.
Whenever God’s removal
is proposed, I detect an odd
desire for non-God God
to take His place. Simps flail
about until this tale
of bugs and predatory
beasts usurps the story
of the Abrahamic father.
In the end I don’t bother
to differentiate.
In both, we age and wait
for death if death does not
arrive before. I’ve got
no care for nature’s will.
I’ve seen the final bill
for living,
is my petty
retort. It’s nothing pretty.


Table of Contents


Myles Weber is a professor of English at Winona State University in Minnesota. His work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Southern Review, the Georgia Review, the Sewanee Review, and many other journals. He is the author of Consuming Silences: How We Read Authors Who Don’t Publish (U of Georgia Press).

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


One Response

  1. I always laugh at people who proclaim there to be no God, then deify Nature, substituting a new and non-existent entity and moral authority in place of the old, man’s irresistible urge to seek a higher power now enshrining the agglomeration of other species that neither singly nor together possess any kind of authority over us nor practise let alone can preach any kind of morals other than kill, eat, reproduce.

    Values we can ourselves enshrine by killing any species that threatens our ability to do these things.

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