Mantis Religiosa


Mantis Religiosa

…Creation’s final law—/…Nature, red in tooth and claw, Alfred Lord Tennyson



Chitinous, cassocked devotee

not red but green in tooth and claw,

adheres to the oldest law

and executes it to a T.


With six stereoscopic eyes,

and arms like barbed harpoons

it spends midsummer afternoons

impaling birds and butterflies.


This affectless prim prelate,

employing a serrated bite,

accommodates its appetite

by blithely dining on its mate.


To whom does the mantis pray,

and what truth does it prophesy?

The truth of kill and eat or die?

As for its prayer, no one can say.



Edison Jennings


Edison Jennings is a single father, veteran, and occasional teacher living in the western Appalachian region of Virginia. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Boulevard, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, River Styx, Slate, Southern Review, Southwest Review, and TriQuarterly. His chapbook, Reckoning, is available through Jacar Press. His second chapbook, A Letter to Greta, will be published later this year.


  1. This poem deftly moves across levels. The minute detail focuses my mind on the mantis. The ultimate question takes me beyond the minutiae. The clarity is a treat.

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