Ballad of the Termites

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    This is sung to the melody of Ballad of the Green Berets (Barry Sadler, 1966), which is the melody of the traditional song, The Butcher Boy. I conceived the first part in 1983:

Gossamer wings upon my desk.

These are some of the termites’ best.

They crawled out of the wall today,

then they got up and flew away.

    This is the rest of it, conceived at the end of 2015:

From the cockroach they evolved.

Nature’s problem they have solved.

At one task they got quite good.

They can eat and digest wood.


A fallen tree they colonize.

This is food in the termites’ eyes.

Throughout the wood their tunnels roam

as they eat themselves out of house and home.


Once they were so very rare,

as Nature spread a scanty fare.

Then an ape became their friend

and spread a feast that will never end.


They found a place that they could swarm.

It kept them fed. It kept them warm.

They moved into a neighborhood

filled with buildings made of wood.


They’ve become a major pest.

To kill them off, we’ve tried our best.

They avoid the stuff we spray

and they will never go away.


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