Beggar’s Lice

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block
Third Place, November 2020
Judged by Jim McGarrah

First, the lush green

tendrils make

a basil rosette.

Beneath the wither

of summer

she brittles,

dispersing her little

ones, the stickseed,

onto the down

of a doe’s coat

or between the

ribs of passing


to be reborn

as a mother on

the forest floor.

Often, a poem becomes successful through the simplicity of its form and language because what it ends us relaying to a reader is a discovery or a reminder of something profound. Here, the magnificent cycle of nature, of all life, as it has been occurring and re-occurring for eons of time is laid out for the reader in one brief synecdoche. A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something or vice versa. It’s a interesting craft tool for poets because we often use it subconsciously and naturally as a way of describing an action that is greater than the sum of its parts. This poem provides us with a good example of that usage. --Jim McGarrah