A PRAYING MANTIS IN NEW YORK

I found her under Bell Atlantic
She was by far the biggest
The biggest I had ever seen
How did she get here?
A pearl crawling
Sprawling even
Under us gentle lonelyoids
Going people feet everywhere
A Bolivian Shrine unseen
Belonging to Walt Disney

She didn't like my arm
So I watched over her
For 3 blocks
Like a big-hearted oak
She'd stick to a restaurant window
Faces frozen with guilty lunch

People began noticing us
Some would stop
Ask us things
Some would just open wide themselves
I'd shrug
"She's not mine. I found her."
"What is it?"
"A Praying Mantis."
"How many are left in the world?"
"Plenty."
One guy thought she was a deformed frog
Grasshopper came up
A cockroach too
And of course
The illogical cricket
One little boy knew she was a sign

If she could bring peace to this city
She'd make a great senator
If she could stop the forks of 50 carnivores
She'd make a great activist
If she could make us all look both ways
She'd make a great traffic cop
I decided to name her Callendria
Named after an old tree house

One girl asked me what I fed her
"Just love and worms." I shrugged
I could have gotten her number
But sometimes it's right
Sometimes it isn't
Especially in New York
Where starting a conversation
Could, in actuality, be just a conversation?
But if Callendria could make them notice
She'd make a great dating service

Later that night
I took pity on myself
Rolled up in bed
Thinking about Callendria
Her discoveries
Her travels
The adventures
Her restaurants of choice
Did she ever make it? 
What about her family?
Did she have another name?
She was by far the biggest
The biggest I had ever seen
An out of place miracle?
The kind that just happens
In order to happen
A reason to reflect
To go beyond
Beyond our own safeguards
To further our going
To question
To risk being squashed
I rolled over to the window
I wish all lessons
Were 3 trains, 6 blocks, and a prayer away
Of course if she had me praying
There's just no telling what she's capable of


  Chris Barnett

TAR
CHRIS BARNETT is a writer/musician from Brooklyn and has been featured in various online compilations: Flowering Splendor and The Best Poems of 2002. These days he is head first immersed in the corporate sea, putting up with a mundane temp job.  However, the stagnant atmosphere makes for some good writing time.