Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There has to be a poem here . . .

Cicadas, the loud yet harmless insects, have begun rearing their unattractive heads across the southern U.S. after a 13-year lull spent underground.

States like Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia are reporting the insects emerging in droves, and are preparing for that incessant buzzing that will soon fill the atmosphere as the male cicadas seek out mates in a clamorous event that last occurred in 1998.

Meanwhile, scientists are bustling to study the enigmatic creatures, well aware they won't have another chance to do so until 2024.


Justin Evans said...

Billy Collins, in his New York reading (the one where he is introduced by Bill Murray) says, for him the word "cidada" is a deal breaker, and he refuses to finish the poem.

Here then is my poem, "Cidada."


I’ve looked through all my poems
and I can’t find a single instance
where I use the word cicada. I think
it’s a word women are more likely to use,
feel more comfortable writing about,
paper wings and all. I looked around
and I could not find a single male poet
who used cicada in a poem naturally,
made me feel like it had always been there
waiting to be discovered. Not even
John Ashbery used cicada, unless
he has a dead one hidden beneath some notebook
forgetting its mention, but I don’t think so.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading
poems about cicadas, where there’s one,
there’s always a swarm. Whenever
I try putting a specific word in a poem
I fail miserably. I too, cloud the air
with a single word, make it the elephant
in the room, hoping everyone will learn
to accept it as it is. I can’t do that with cicada.
It’s too demanding. When you say it
everyone stops, expecting you to use words
which imitate their sound, talk about children
playing in the glow of dusk―
I can admit I am not a good enough writer
to redefine the southern landscape. What’s more
the word cicada inevitably forces us
to use words like crescendo or gothic
inciting public riots of sleep.

Martha Silano said...

I have to say I have tentatively fond/vivid/gross-out memories of the cicada "bloom" in my hometown the year I graduated from high school (1979). They were big, ugly, and fascinating all at once. And now every time I see a cicada, it reminds me of being 17 and in a graduation gown. I love that they incubate for 13 or 17 years and then pop out to say hello/mate. What could they be possibly thinking about in the dirt all those years? A poem here, indeed . . .

Peter said...

Martha: I think a Cicada poem is definitely in your future!