Ed Zahniser

From Dung Beetles to Bingo

For all we know dung beetles may study
Humans and their ways and call it humanology.
—Frederick Buechner

Or pincate beetles hike up onto their forelegs,
blast out their anti-predator irritant juice,
and call that law enforcement, all the while inspiring
Beano and the ten thousand household aerosols
from Procter & Gamble. Or prairie dogs—
not dogs but rodents like the squirrels called
“the meat that grows on trees”—burrow
between two entrance/exit holes and call that
the Lincoln Tunnel, only to see it taken over
by burrowing owls who call it squatters’ rights
but then find themselves chased out by snakes
who call it the advent of Freudian psychology.
Or bears that hibernate with a pine-pitch plug
in their anal pore to cut down moisture loss
but don’t know what to call this because
they’re asleep for half the year, so we’ll call it
“top management” who are half asleep all year
but call it “optimum performance to the metrics”
which we grunt workers call a buzzword
then take a gridded sheet of buzzwords du jour
to endless staff meetings where we check off
each buzzword as top management buzzes
and buzzes until we get a full line checked off
all the way across or up and down our sheet
then jump up and scream “BULLSHIT BINGO!”

Ed Zahniser was born in DC, raised in Hyattsville, MD, and served in the US Army in the US and Korea (1968 – 1970). On his return to DC, he co-founded Some Of Us Press, was poetry editor of Wilderness magazine and an associate poetry editor of Antietam Review. His poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines in the US and UK; he is the author of four full-length books, most recently At Betty’s Restaurant Thomas Shepherd Loves Danske Dandridge and The Shepherdstown Sonnets (Four Seasons Books, 2014) and Mall-hopping with the Great I AM (Somondoco Press, 2006); and three chapbooks, most recently Slow Down and Live, a collaboration with artist and designer Heather Watson of Pernot & Tatlin (2011). His Some Of Us Press book, The Ultimate Double Play, was his first published book, released in 1974. Zahniser lives in Shepherdstown, WV, where he is the co-founder and poetry editor of the all-volunteer community quarterly The Good News Paper. He edited the anthology In Good Company: 27 Poets Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Shepherdstown and has hosted an annual fundraiser for his local public library for multiple years. With Karen Z. Bettacchi, he published the nonfiction book Ways to the Wilderness (Atlantis Rising Communications, 1998). Zahniser recently retired from the National Park Service Publications Group in Harpers Ferry, WV after 35 years of service. In that capacity he lectured widely and led seminars on wilderness preservation topics.