Thursday, March 17, 2016

DMC: "Love Song" by Michelle H. Barnes


Photo: Yamanaka Tamaki

The first time I discovered one of these I was pretty freaked out.

I was told it was a locust shell, but now I find out that's not true. Locusts look more like grasshoppers. This is a cicada exoskeleton. (You can watch a time lapse video of the molting process here.)

It also happens to be the inspiration for my contribution to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's DMC challenge this month. Amy asked us to write poems about small things— animals or objects you see everyday and don't give much thought.


Photo by Leslie

I've always liked cicada song. It's the unforgettable soundtrack of summer. But I've never really given cicadas themselves much thought.  Taking the time to do some research, I learned a few interesting tidbits.

Did you know...

  • There are about 3000 known species of cicada. Some appear every year, but "periodical cicadas" show up en masse only every 13 or 17 years. A group of cicadas is called a cloud or plague.
  • The "hum" of the cicada is made by vibrating tymbals on the male's abdomen. Some species can be heard up to a mile away.
  • If you're using power tools or lawn equipment, cicadas may mistake the tool's "song" for their own and land on you.
  • Wild animals, domestic pets, and people all eat cicadas. Good thing there are enough of them to go around. (And feel free to have my share.)

In my poem I explore their romantic, rather than their anatomical or culinary, characteristics.


LOVE SONG

In the sizzle of summer
a cicada emerges
from seventeen years
underground.
Patience worn thin,
he unzips his skin
wriggles and stretches
and clickity buzzes
to capture the heart
of a pretty young thing
gossiping in the treetops.
Patience worn thin,
the seduction begins
chit-chit-chIT-chIT-CHIT-CHIT-CHIT
he sets the summer on fire.

© 2016 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.




Send your poem about a small thing to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration next Friday, March 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Amy's delightful nonfiction picture book:




It's been a busy week for small poems! Other poems featured this week were by Damon Dean, Kathy Mazurowski, Michelle Kogan, Maria Marshall, Catherine Flynn, Margaret Simon, and Carol Varsalona. Cbhanek is featuring her small poem today.

Cicadas not your thing? There's something for everyone at the Poetry Friday roundup. Robyn Hood Black is our host today at Life on the Deckle Edge.





55 comments:

  1. Being insect-landing-on-me averse, thank you for providing yet one more reason for staying clear of using power tools or lawn equipment (not that my husband welcomes me doing so--although there was a time when I actually did insist on doing those things). I love the zippiness of your poem, and especially the image of "unzipping" skin; whoever would have thought that when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love in spring, it would be the young cicada-man's fancy you would write so engagingly about! Thank you!

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    1. Who knew, indeed! Certainly not me, cb. It's always a surprise what these challenges bring to the table.

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  2. Michelle, your cicada became busy awfully fast after a long dormant period. Enjoyed your small object.

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    1. You bet! He's making up for lost time. ;) Thanks, Carol.

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  3. Love these cicada shells... used to hook them on our noses and chase the girls around the yard or playground. Nice poem, love your treatment of his song!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Damon. Tell me you didn't really do that– hook them on your noses and torment the girls. (Facepalm.)

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  4. Wow - that's a TERRIFIC poem, Michelle! Love how our romantic hero "unzips his skin" before his serenade. Yay, cicadas!

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    1. Thanks so much, Robyn. :D (And thanks for hosting today, too!)

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  5. Cicadas aren't my thing, yet, one of my favorite haiku is about a cicada!

    This is great, Michelle, he unzips his skin
    wriggles and stretches
    and clickity buzzes


    And thanks for all the cicada info!

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    1. Those ancient haiku dudes knew a thing or two about writing about bugs, that's for sure!

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  6. I love he "unzips his skin!" During one of those big cicada years, my son collected the shells by the hundreds. He filled tupperware containers that he stored under his bed!

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    1. Oh my, that would give me nightmares for sure, Liz! Between you and Damon, I confess I'm feeling a bit uneasy right now.

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  7. This is great, Michelle. I like how his song starts seeming impatient. Girls, where ARE you??

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    1. Seventeen years is a long time! Thanks, Tabatha. :)

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  8. We look for the 'exoskeletons', so cool. Love the poem, every bit of a love story, right? Thanks for the facts too. Had no idea there were so many species.

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    1. I couldn't believe all the different eye colors! Did you check out the marbled eyes? Incredible. If I was a cicada, I would fall for those eyes without question.

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  9. A poem that captures my insect-loving heart...

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    1. Pretty sure I was channeling you as I wrote it, Buffy!

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  10. Cicadas are very prevalent here on the bayou in summer. In fact come to think of it, their sound is the very sound of summer. I've written them into poems before. "He sets the summer on fire." or is it the other way around. They seem to be louder when it is hotter.

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    1. Good point, Margaret! Whichever way you look at it, summer and cicadas go hand in hand.

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  11. I love how you got the song of the circada down on paper.
    Wonderful!

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    1. Fortunately, they were cooperative! Thanks, Joy. :)

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  12. Saved this in a folder in my email, Michelle. It's bursting with wonderful images. Plus, I had a science lesson to boot. *smile* I love it. Especially the onomatopoeic words. So much fun.

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  13. I love your poem, Michelle! Cicadas when they are screaming all night...not so much. But your poem about them...VERY much!

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    1. Thanks, ELlen. They are pretty raucous night-partiers, aren't they!

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  14. These small object poems are so much fun! I love your cicada unzipping its skin, and can't wait for "the sizzle of summer!"

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    1. You should come to Florida, Catherine... we've already had a hint of the sizzle!

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  15. "Patience worn thin"
    "he sets the summer on fire"

    Cicadas everywhere are puffed up with pride. Beautiful. Not only small made beautiful, but small and not-always-recognized-as-beautiful made beautiful.

    xo

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    1. Thank you, Amy. Even more, the puffed up cicadas should thank you. I doubt I would have thought to write this poem without your prompt! xo

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  16. So interesting and perfect for the new life focus of spring. Love that ending: "He sets the summer on fire."

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    1. Thanks for noticing, Violet! I was trying to capture a lot with that line— the heat of summer, the heat of their passion, and the insistent song that sizzles and spreads like wildfire.

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  17. Woot woot! You made the entomologist hit parade!

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  18. I love cicadas, and have heard their different calls from Provence, France, to Thailand! I think you captured their essence in your beautiful poem!

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    1. Thank you so much! I know that they have many different calls, but how exciting that would be to witness the differences personally.

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  19. I am a bug person. What a great poem! "Unzips his skin" is my favorite phrase here. You capture how alien cicadas are

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    1. Thank you, Laura. Watching videos of them erupting out of their skins, I couldn't help but think of the Alien movies!

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  20. I'm in love with the way you made their sound into words and the last line -- everso true!

    (Now I'm off to work on my poem before I miss the deadline...again!)

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    1. Thanks, Mary Lee. I think your earthworm and my cicada should have a picnic. :)

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  21. When I first found cicada exoskeletons on the pine tree outside my bedroom window, I was sure I had found treasure! I was collecting them in a shoebox when my sister told me they were disgusting and that I should go wash my hands. It's always in the eye of the beholder... I still like them. ;0)

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    1. Hmmmph. Freaky I'll go for. Disgusting? Most definitely not. I'm glad to hear you still like them, Karen!

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  22. You put an entire new twist on cicadas! I'm usually very fond of insects though this critter has challenged me. Although I love your focus on their capturing "the heart of a pretty young thing" and your refrain of "patience worn thin." Enjoyed the insect facts and images too, especially about their eyes, thanks!

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    1. Aren't those eyes something else? If eyes are the window to the soul, how colorful these cidadas souls must be!

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  23. That bug has one thing on his mind. LOL I love your language choice. I smiled to see your title. It reminded me of my Little Dance. Song and dance just go together. I once found one of those shells on my deck, and it was huge. Yet I never see one on the wing. They are very secretive. Great poem!

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    1. Ha! One thing on his mind, no kidding! And of course the first thing he does is unzip. Sheesh. ;)

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  24. "Feel free to have my share." Hahahaha! You crack me up, Michelle. I do love the poem. I love the repetition, the unzipping of skin, and all the onomatopoeia. Thanks or this sweet post.

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    1. Thanks for the sweet comment, Rosi. :) I'm glad I could make you laugh.

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  25. "Patience worn thin..." a phrase that can mean so many things in various situations (politics?), but is the exact right refrain for this critters' courtin' rituals. So good, Michelle! Brava! =)

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    1. Thank you, Bridget. :) I might even consider voting for a cicada over some of the other candidates.

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  26. Susannah Buhrman-DeeverMarch 22, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    "Unzips his skin", "summer on fire" makes me feel summer heat on this blow-y chilly day. The sounds of cicadas always make me feel hotter on a summer's day. Lovely.

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  27. I love, love, love this, Michelle. The older Chicago suburbs get hit hard when the Cicada's emerge. Brings back memories. I feel like the Cicada song announces "Summertime is here - July 4th is near!"

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