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A Sonnet of Bugs

A Poem by Amy Adshead

Deploy the swat team, my fingers, to flick

bodies far into the abyss of a dark bedroom. Following the noises,

of wings unbuttoning in front of my face, flapping like blur.

It’s gentle when their shiny rounds go over, how they lay tired,

Curled on their backs on the crumpled bedspread.

The lovebugs are going stale in orange sunrise.

They are dead or maybe alive and there will be more,

Resurfacing in my wine, squished between books, washed up in the shower

Trails of them like .-.. --- ...- . wriggling over my skin.

Don't let them bite or just once, if they stay with me longer.

They are fuckers. And because they are everywhere,

I marry one and become half-bug.

screw on antennae and buzz and talk non-stop of bright lights

And guess the maggots can eat up our love instead.

A Statement by Amy Adshead on their process

This poem began with a chronic bug infestation. A group of fungus gnats have decided to take permanent residence in my houseplants. I try my best to kill them on sight. Nevertheless, they return, more bugs to fill up where other bugs used to be. On my windowsill the dead bug bodies go dry in the sunshine. So, a poem?


Taking the sonnet as a typical form for desire, I discovered that lovers could hold a lot of resemblance to the bugs. They are not inherently bad, ugly or detestable (one would hope) but being with them can be invasive and leave bodies lying around your domestic space (metaphorically of course). I tried to speak towards how being surrounded by the bugs felt and blended this with how being involved in casual relationships can feel.


The poem constantly balances the unpleasant and the romantic. I enjoyed exploring the persona and their complicated feelings of both enjoying something and disliking it at once. The persona is desensitized and generally pessimistic following their encounters. After trying endless methods to rid my bedroom of bugs, I’ve learnt it can make you feel as though they are inevitable (there is no world without bugs).


My writing process tends to be very emotion-based. I am always trying to give my readers secrets, like the Morse code or blurred distinction between images. Things to work out, with moments of familiarity and parts that make them feel at odds.

Love is not always uncomplicated and outright. The lack of resistance as the persona adopts bug habits is purposefully imperfect. They are ‘half-bug’. It is very artificial and loveless. I like the irony of the contemporary sonnet. Take what you will of my bugs.

Back to BoundBy: Winter '24 (Edition #07)

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