How to Hunt Wasps: Camp Rodney, 2001

On my honor, I will do my best / To do my duty to God and my country and obey the Scout Law; / To help other people at all times; / To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
—the Scout Oath


On my honor
we flared out
around a picnic table
so much prepubescent
sweat steeping
our khaki uniforms brown
beneath shocks of blond sunlight.
We didn’t look
like the scouts on the manual
that is to say whiteboys but boy
could we ever tie up
our neckerchiefs in a knot.
We didn’t have the right
badges but there was
no shortage of eight-foot flagpoles
to wind up as baseball bats.
We smashed can
after can after can
of emerald Mountain Dew
shaken up until the picnic table
was awash in green
syrup and sparkling sunshine
all of us leaning in to see
a handful of wasps
plastered to tabletop
pinned beneath the weight
of brilliant hissing dollops.
There we squatted
greedy above wood planks.
We relished the knowledge
of wet wings mired
beneath our boots
dumb to the methods of mercy
able only to imagine
their greatest agony.