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The BE/S
A Biosemiotics      bee flight as script
the waggle dance, the round dance
and foraging behavior


                                                                                     you are the secret

                                                                                             pinned to a vortex

feeling our way by our leg hairs and the ultraviolet sensors


    in our eyes we hover we come apart we are gold rivers       with torn scientia

                                                                                                       our little hands

          our eyes shine we assemble eros we love weeds

                                                                                         the aleph, the beta

            we hover we come apart we translate petals             hungtight,   ringing

          we cloud over we are the geographers of flowers

                                                                                             gone     o  o  o  o

               we buy nothing we sell nothing we hover         gone away   home

                                                                                           bound            golden-

      in precise relation to the sun no god could bear this


   mouth drunk on milkweed and starry with the intensity                   corn tassels


                of our movements a low beating noise

          our leg hairs unimaginably sensitive and sticky                    throat


            what if we are the language of others

                                                                                    sensorium    harmonium

what if language is both inside and outside the body


  intraspecies, polyphonic        resource extraction                              borders

                      what if we are the words

         others’ mouths cannot form without us                threw open her hands

                                                                                                     into raw unsewn

            sparks set loose like bees glistening


                               selva obscura                                      crimson clover

                      dark woods dark words                         where is everyone


                            frayed, sentient



in fields of the missing

do you remember birds

                                             it was shame that lit me like a flame

uncanny silence of empty white hive boxes

dark matter of hands

                                                                stumbled and pretending not to

ghost shirt and ghost wind

discarded container of Gaucho™ pesticide

                                            bluebirds grassland              ache

ghost dirt and “white man’s flies” and white man’s runoff


Beo-wulf, bee-man, little bison

monegum mæþum meodo-setla oftēah           into the mead hall he plunges

                   with his shining axe       his scarred and golden pelt

interstate bees, fossil-fuel bees

                             bees with guns, bees with suns

transported like Minutemen missiles

across prairies and test sites

nothing that is not Being or being rinsed through with dark excess my mouth

confused with night                          

flowers that belong to the dead, flowers that unclothe their bodies

without reserve

                         “the chemical warfare that is modern agriculture”

                                                       pink plastic toys lined up in the rain


                     multinational clothianidin dust in our furrows

                                               coating seed corn and soy beans

          finally weapons of mass destruction have been discovered

                                               nearly invisible        in living aquifers

                          and the pollen hair of disoriented bees

          who join the disappeared of the Plaza de las Madres and those missing

on reconnaissance over napalmed Agent Orange rice fields

             shining archetypes

   over heartland, terra roxa, the raw purple soil of Amazonia

                   our everyday lives              in late summer orchards

                                gone glottal and feral, outside our focus

                                               blank stare of the sun






ring-necked snake your coral flower your dragonfly blue

weft, reft      womb   

islands your tiny furred bees your wild

hulled        drunk on      

                                        countenance swims dusk coyotes                  our futures


ecstatic as maenads


                        stroking the hair of my bees

“unsteady aerodynamics,” a waxy substance from one’s own body

transparency of their flight, opacity of desire


without permission happiness happens                          or flesh-eating bacteria

sudden flash in near

and farther conifers                         the excessive yellow

and scarlet of a tanager

because “I Like America and America Likes Me”

why so bright

free-radical scavenger         isotopes

unless Beauty is hell-bent

upon existing despite survival

because forever is a dream a nightmare

of the fittest automobile

free-market cloudbank                                                        like heaven, a chasm

                in hedgerows, hedge funds

                                                      all life hinges


because the body is a ladder of incomparable pain

this is burning as I speak

                                  because the body is a ladder of incomparable pain

             they ran, scattered

woven with oracular bees, trembling

awaken bees, arise bees, trembling

     and ran, but not fast enough

tongue to tongue, the colors, trembling

             because the body is a ladder of incomparable pain

whose yellow bodies soar, trembling

where gods or God erased the people

cast off into the open, perilous

not gods or God, our warheads

pollen-filled air

                                                            scrubbed data

                                                                                             ethically clean

                                  the stars on fire


Drawings/video stills/projections by the author.

This work is part of “we are bees of the invisible,” a collaboration with ethnomusicologist/pianist Kumi Uyeda, Israeli composer Maayan Tsadka, electronic music composer/cellist Daniel Brown and producer Kallan Nishimoto, performed at Flytrap Studio in Oakland in the fall of 2013, and involving trumpet, piano, accordion, cello, toy piano, melodica, tonkori, live and recorded voice, and electronic music, with video pieces by Denise Newman and by beekeeper Michael Thiele [].

The poems address colony collapse disorder and are informed by the field of biosemiotics, with patterns of bee flight used in communicating flower location to the hive transposed into text forms and drawings that are projected and also used as a graphical score in performance.

While colony collapse disorder threatening honeybee populations worldwide is a complex issue, it is clear that systemic neonicotinoid pesticides such as Gaucho (imidacloprid) and Pancho (clothianidin), both manufactured by Bayer, are heavily implicated. Banned in Europe, these compounds are still prevalent in the US. A newly introduced bill, “Save America’s Pollinators” (HR 2692), would place a moratorium on harmful pesticides.

  • Nancy Spero’s paintings and murals echo in this work
  • “the chemical warfare …”: from posts by Desert Scientist at
  • “Agent Orange rice fields …”: speaks to the coincidence of agricultural products and weapons: Agents Orange, Blue, and White were all first used as herbicides
  • “And yet sometimes an animal looks up …”: Rilke
  • “I Like America and America Likes Me”: 1974 performance of Joseph Beuys in an NYC gallery over a period of three days with a coyote

The upper image on the first page also appears in black and white in Alphabet Theater (Wesleyan).

Meredith Stricker is a visual artist and poet working in cross-genre media. Her forthcoming collection, re-wilding, was awarded the Dorset prize from Tupelo Press. Her other books of poetry include Our Animal (Omnidawn Open Book Prize) and Anemochore (Newfound Press). She co-directs visual poetry studio, a collaborative that focuses on architecture and other projects to bring together artists, writers, musicians, and experimental forms.