John Pluecker

Based on a transversion of a conceptual poem, called Magnitud by Marco Antonio Huerta and Sara Uribe. Click here for the Transversioner's Note.

for Humberto Navarrete


Ladybug, ladybug
fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
Your children’s alone.

Do you see a black body
divided into three sections
elliptical head wider than long
bulging eyes transparent wings
crossed nerves trunkish mouth
huge suckering feet escape
into air or degrade into
component parts?

Oh, beware the yellow-stomached
the vulgars the domestics oh
all are flies that aren’t flies
impostors of fake flying.

The impostor is trying to fly.
No, says the other fly, you are
a fake. You are not real.

The impostor fly
only wants to
set into flight. But
held back hung low.



One two three four
the flies lock hands
and scuffle some more.

Match those hands twist
them wrench them ground
them down to ground.

If he says mercy
mercy please on
his knees release.

One two three fight
for. Release him
mercy mercy.



You say:

The heart
he was putting
on his voice
got my attention.

Already in
face down.

The whole time
the agents
hitting him on both
sides of his ribs.



How does the fly always seem to get away?

Finally scientists were able to reveal the secret as to why unruly flies were so hard to trap and always got away. Somehow the fly knows, they said. Researchers discovered the flies possess a sophisticated defense system that enables them to anticipate their aggressor’s movements by a fraction of a second. Using high speed and high resolution videos scientists found that flies have quick brains enabling them to plan their escape ahead of time.

And scientists point out the best way to squash them is to approach silently and swipe down in the space just ahead. Most people have felt the frustration of trying to squash a fly and seeing how it intrepidly flees. Somehow the fly knows.

Before a fly escapes as a response to the threat of the predator or the flyswatter, it plans the direction of its launch making a series of complex movements. Instead of just flying away the tiny fly brain calculates where the threat originated and so prepares its escape.

The objective of these movements is to plan the flight.

The fly can prepare for its flight and then regret.

Somehow the fly knows, they say.



You say:

He’s not resisting.
Why are you guys
using excessive force?

He says:

I don’t know what’s
going on over there,
obviously he’s doing
something. He ain’t
not cooperating.



I don’t want these words to be as heavy as life sometimes seems heavy or I don’t want them to be heavier or to weigh down or perhaps that’s okay if you weren’t already weighted down but perhaps you were so then I should give you a moment as I want there to be a moment here in the midst of all this



a moment, like my brother said, when we look up in the sky and part the billboards and the heavy eyelids and look up and maybe see a cloud or a seagull (maybe it’s lost, no don’t call the seagull lost, this is the pretty part) flying proudly in the sky or a flying superhero in the air a seagull superhero flying happily through the sky.



The seagull superhero says:

If you do not let my people go,
I will send swarms of flies on you
and your officials, on your people
and into your houses. The houses
will be full of flies, and even
the ground will seem to crawl
with their suckering feet.

Brother, when we read the Bible,
we were never told,
the Hebrew word for
swarm of flies is almost
the same as and easily
mistaken for the word mixture.

John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and teacher. His work has appeared in journals and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, including the Rio Grande Review, Picnic, Third Text, Animal Shelter, HTMLGiant, and Literal. He has published more than five books in translation from the Spanish, including essays by a leading Mexican feminist, short stories from Ciudad Juárez, and a police detective novel. There are two chapbooks of his work, Routes into Texas (DIY, 2010) and Undone (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011). Find more of his work at