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Insects and Other Tiny Critters:

Speck on the bathroom
floor moves--a bug. Kill it? Why?
Speck, should I kill you?

Hard to kill something one can address. Maybe that's why movie villains so often make long, smug speeches to their proposed victims (giving them a chance to get away, fight back, etc.): It shows that they are inhuman enough to be able to kill those with whom they are chatting in apparent cordiality.

Huge gold butterfly
flits about my legs. No net,
so I use my eyes.

Bright blue day--
a butterfly! "Heel!" yells my body
at me--"Stay with me!"

No more cicadas,
front yard full of tiny holes--
who will finger them?

They reminded me of the holes in a flute, which I also associate with their endless "singing".

A wall of cricket noise--
Is there room to walk
this summer night?

That cricket never stops.
I was thinking what to say next
when he stopped.

Walk slowly past, and
perhaps that cricket will not
stop chirping...silence.

Walking quietly -
the cricket stops

Two versions. I prefer the second.

Morning. Has that cricket
been going all night?
Or do they change crickets?

Last night ice cream,
hot fudge, whipped cream. This morning
birds, crickets, my stomach.

On the sidewalk
a swarm of ants. Do they ever
die of old age?

No porch light--I grope
for the door bell...whoops!
You won't ding, little snail?

That snail is simply adoorbell! This did happen to me - in Pasadena one evening, when I was delivering Police Association Show Tickets. It reminded me of one of my favorite haiku by Issa, where he closes the old gate, and places upon it "for a lock, this snail."

Flies bustling about
on that piece of dung
like old-time movie actors.

A snail
the sidewalk.

A fresh mosquito bite
on my wrist to be
interested in.

How far must I walk
to get my head out of this
fly's territory?

A black ant crosses the rocks
and pauses before my shoe--

That way lies certain
death, cockroach. I show no
mercy. Please go away.

One roach I tolerate (though will usually toss it outside). Hordes, no. In this case, I wasn't up for a chase (was sitting on the toilet, I think), but thought I'd save myself the decision by willing it to head away from me. It did.

Cricket sounds outside
make me see moonlight--must be
the sound of moonlight.

Gold Rorshach design
glides past, now rests on a grass
blade, half a design.

Maybe a bit too obvious, since we commonly, when asked to interpret Rorshachs, see their symmetry as butterfly-like.

Wasp lights on the step
near my bare foot: I ignore
him and ignore him...

That is, I try to ignore him, figuring I'm less likely to get stung if I don't move and just wait for him to leave. (Of course, I could try killing him, but usually prefer not to.

I saw a butterfly
stitch the sky,
but could not find the seam.

Past my ear, stops--gone.
Left on my cheek, the tenderness
of a fly's touch.

On a nearby stone
perches a grasshopper, still,
friendly--or scared.

Out of my tub, spider!
I'm not poet enough
To skip my shower.

We lie in the grass
July 4th night, waiting...O!
twinkle of fireflies!

Killing roaches;
each dark chipped spot on the porcelain

When you really get into it, you begin to see many more roaches than there are.

Pardon me, green bug.
I meant to scoot you from the page,
not to crush you.

Mass Avenue:
Palatial embassies, old trees,
sidewalk, an ant.

Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC, has many huge embassies.

Track lighting:
Out of the cylinder spills
flakes of light - two moths.

Dusk. A bug flashes:
Still too light out, Firefly -
like explained magic.

Mating dragonflies -
each tries to thread
the other's needle.

Frayed butterflies -
some child rues each
battered ornate kite.

Could be about butterflies late in summer, but I was looking at skeletons of kites hanging from branches.

Rain-wet parking lot gleams.
Cars ride the surface
like water bugs.

I notice - only NOTICE! -
that scuttling spider,
and it stops dead still.

Spiders are terrific at playing dead. They can instantly look limp and shriveled; so if you'd spare them, don't toss their "carcases" into toilets or waste baskets. Leave the area, and usually they'll recover. Or toss them outside.

White cat leaps
into the bushes...out floats
orange butterfly.

Silky evening,
but that moth makes of it
a roller-coaster.

We've lost a cat,
but look at the three fine moths
we've gained!

Moths enter in where cats are overly cautious about going out.

Cicada song -
or if they've stopped,
just my ears.

I wish I hadn't seen
that cricket leaping just ahead
of my mower.

Whop! against my pants -
one grasshopper escapes
in the wrong direction.

a lone firefly slowly sets
in the western lawn.

Lit, they rise,
downward drift darkened,
Couples in the grass.

"Ooh! A spider!...but
don't hurt it!", but she lets me
hurt cockroaches.

Dropping from her hair,
looping down the front page -

Through my headlight drifts
a white moth...? I just slowed for
a scrap of paper!

Move to the side -
the SIDE! Damned beetles
in the mower's path.

Chuang Tse flutters past
my bench, dreaming I thought him
a butterfly.

Referring to the Chinese sage who wrote that his dream of being a butterfly was so vivid that, waking, he wasn't sure if he was Chuang Tse who had dreamt of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming himself to be Chuang Tse.

ZAP - a fly
goes for a short exciting ride
on a frog's tongue.

We turn out the lights
and stop talking; sound of slow
breathing, crickets, cars.

Against the sizzling bulb
a fly pings and buzzes,
pings and buzzes.

Fly buzzing on his back,
gently turned over, totters,
falls on his back.

I turn on the light,
spotting the shade with dead flies,
autumn rain outside.

Late fall, snowing out.
I flick the switch: yet more
dead flies in the shade.

I write about dead flies
specking the lamp shade,
THEN clean the lamp.

One more singed fly
on his back, legs working --
I'll toss him out tomorrow.

Fall. The flies die
like flies, legs up, flailing,
on each window sill.

Dark morning. By my cheek
her face; fly buzz-buzzes
the cold window.

Fly buzzes against the pane
just above where it's open...
Ah! Out!

My first autumn and winter in Ithaca, NY (1967), my rooms became a burial ground for some species of dullish black-gray flies - not the pretty blue-green-headed ones. Every day there'd be a new batch inside ceiling light shades, on window sills, on their backs, waggling their legs in the air. I couldn't do much for them, so I wrote about them.

Over the highway
butterflies play tag, vanish
beneath the hood's edge.

On the glare of cement,
a bee, still - dead? alive?
I start to sweat.

Swept up with dry leaves
and dog dung - a dead blue-black

Too low pitched...Oh!
power lines.

A skinny crack,
but runs all the way across
the street -- ANT CROSSING

Old iron bell...
a butterfly takes flight --

The butterfly took off just before the bell was struck.

Throwing a bug outdoors --
chilly. But they wear their bones
on the outside.

Sounds spooky, but they do. That's what the "chitin" is (pronounced k-eye-tin, which ruined a joke of mine based on "your chitin heart"), a hard "exo-skeleton" or external skeleton.

CRUNCH!...dead snail.
Can't one ever just
wound one?

Kill it! The bit of
this golden day buzz buzzing
about my ear...

Dried out cricket --
how'd he get in here?
How did I?

Ahead, butterflies dance
(for me?)...splat
on the windshield.

A thousand eyes, yet
couldn't see spider threads! I,
what can't I see?

The fly with his thousand eyes is still caught in the web. And I, with my mere two?

Water so still
the lilies drift. Tiny Vs
where bugs skate.

Or the lilies SEEM to drift?

Wet shoes dodge
sidewalk snails: Do they enjoy
this dew-rinsed air?

Above my writing desk,
a spider weaves
catchy designs.

Monarch perched on a rose,
as redundant
as summer.

Rose AND monarch butterfly? How much beauty can a haiku hold without being glutted.

Jet planes tear the air.
Cricket chirps surf in
on the shock waves.

Butterfly shies from
a reaching flower...reaching?
Oh, a green spider!

The spider was in the flower's cup, reaching out.

Fireworks over,
a few fireflies, unawed,
blink on...off...on...

After fireworks,
fireflies -- my words
in your mind?

The brilliant fireworks over, one can see again the paler gleam of fireflies, like ghostly remnants of the sky rockets, and perhaps a poems words have a similar quality when they linger.

The cicadas gone...
There really IS a ringing
in my ears!

"Do your ears ring?"
I thought so until
the cicadas left.

Three black ants
on the bathroom tile
check out my feet.

Sudden shadow – huge –
between me and the porch light...
a moth.

The shadow is huge because the moth is so close to the light.

Palmetto bug knows
I see him; antennae twitch
like a dog's worried brows.

So easily
he came in. How to get him
out, this fly!

Up and across the dresser,
over wallet, pens –
cat chases fly.

Chased by the cat,
a fly floats ahead
just out of reach.

The above three poems seem to me to go together well, My Michelle. (Sorry, just started channeling a McCartney song.)

Summer night sky swarms
with stars that flicker through galaxies
of gnats.

Florida midnight.
Which noises are the house...
Which are bugs?

For a temperate-zone guy, Florida seems buggy, the nights full of creaks and chirps.

"Don't scratch them!" What good.
are mosquito bites if you
can't scratch them?

Careful, daddy-long-legs,
pull in your legs before
the cup comes down.

To catch one (and toss it out into the yard), if you want to avoid cutting off a leg with the rim of the cup, you have to hold the cup a fraction of an inch off the surface to give a daddy longlegs or large cricket time to pull in its legs.

On my fingernail
a tiny bee.... Where does she
think she is?

Lord, guide my feet
that I step on only
evil ants.














Loss and Loneliness and aloneness


Old Age


A Poet's Life








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