Gnats? Rats!

Gnats? Rats!

The gnats, the gnats, the blasted gnats,

the damnedable, cannibal gnats are back.

The pitiless, hideous, awfully insidious,

the most ignominious gnats are back.

All nattily dressed in their hard ugly shells

they descend on a whim like a bug out of hell.

as they nibble and chew and they scratch and they bite,

and they make their cruel homes wherever they might.

No child can escape them, no mother can run,

no father, no uncle, no itchy grandson

can hope to avoid this yearly bug-blight

and no one can bear it when this pest alights.

They crawl into places you thought you had hidden

and make their small gnat-homes totally unbidden.

They cluster on hands, on elbows, on faces

and find their wee ways to the most private places.

They’ve picked the Midwest from all of the nation

to crawl up your shorts and take their vacations.

No child in New Jersey must hide near his father

and people in Utah are not even bothered.

Virginians have never suffered their sting

and folks in Nebraska haven’t heard of the things.

While they drive us all crazy in this home of Jules Sturtevant

the rest of the nation has not even heard of ‘em.

Their botanical name is labeled Simulidae

but no matter the name its never a holiday

when these tiny demons descend on your back

as you slap and you curse and you wisk and you whack.

The bugs get their names from the hump on their rear

but it’s small consolation when covering your ear

you find a gnat nation like a swarm or a flood

happily slurping and sucking your blood.

After one single meal the girl of the species

will lay 500 or so eggs (makes me queasy),

and I’m not being sexist; I believe in “Me Too,”

but only the females can bite you and chew you.

The males of the species have mouths much too small

to bite you; in fact, they don’t like blood at all.

So while all the females take plasma that’s ours

the males of the tribe spend their time sucking flowers.

There’s one consolation to this awful blight:

the Buffalo gnat doesn’t fly much at night.

I guess that no matter the curse of the pest

even a demon must get her due rest.

Vanilla repels them (the spray, not the shake)

but to really deter them you’d need a whole cake.

And scientists say (and they’re quite often right)

that the carbon monoxide of breathing just might

attract the wee terrorists scaling your nose

and crawling into other less mentionable holes,

so the only real cure to this itching and seething

is stop where you are and simply quit breathing.

But there’s no need to whimper, no need to cry.

These God-awful things will die in July,

and if you believe there’s a heaven for flies

(I doubt it, if you don’t, I won’t criticize)

then surely this small gnat will not earn a spot,

instead deserving a place where it’s hot.

Heaven may host the flowers and rain

but the Buffalo gnat will find Satan’s domain

the appropriate place in the earth, near the bottom

where the Devil can duck ‘em and dodge ‘em and swat ‘em.

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website:

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