Tag Archives: katydid

Tropical Gig

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Tropical Gig

A cricket and a katydid in need of some excitement
when the cold winds started, and with no other incitement,
set out on upon a sea journey, their ship an old guitar.
(It wasn’t very roomy. Oh, but it was yar!)

They christened her as Lulabelle after an old amor.
They thought they’d sail the whole wide world from shore to shore to shore.
Setting off from Mexico, they drifted with the breeze,
their water and provisions stacked up around their knees.

The cricket sang such lullabies. The katydid chimed in,
a catfish as a tagalong stroked rhythms on its fin.
Guileless in their motives, they sought no fame nor riches.
From port to port they drifted, with only minor glitches.

On Isla Mujeres, they met a small land crab
that had been used in research in an oceanic lab.
It lit up in the darkness with a thousand little lights.
And so they offered it a ride to light up starless nights.

They drifted off to Cuba atop an ocean swell,
telling all the stories that they had to tell.
Traitorous loves and conquests, flight through the summer night.
The sand crab told of capture after a valiant fight.

The cricket had such stories of houses he’d been in.
The katydid could mime a leaf: long and green and thin.
When they made their music, the crab just clacked its claws.
All night they chirred and clattered—sometimes without a pause.

By the time they got to Cuba, they had a stirring act.
They drew the gulls and pelicans to listen—it’s a fact!
They got a gig in Havana, playing in a bar,
drawing folks to hear them from both near and far.

The cricket’s name is Chirrup and and Katydid is Slim.
The Crab’s name is Oblongus—based on the shape of him.
Their act can be heard nightly in the ocean dunes,
where they will serenade you with their blended tunes.

 

 

 

Prompt words for today are guitar, guileless, traitor, research and excitement.

Katydid? Just What Did Katy Do?

IMG_6020Two months after my husband’s death in California, I moved to Mexico.  Once there, my days were filled with the completion of my house and the buying of appliances, furniture, and familiarizing myself with the language, processes, mores and customs of Mexico.  Although at first I knew no one in my new country of choice, my life quickly filled with the observation of the strange plants, animals and insects that appeared one by one to claim my wonder.  After 14 years, they still do! This poem was written during my first month in my new house.  As stories do, this story was just repeated in a slightly different version yesterday.  You can find that story HERE, but the poem below is fourteen years old.

Katydid? Just What Did Katy Do?

If you were in a salad or a stir fry, I would have taken you for a pea pod,
crunched you right down with the next forkful.
But instead you stand in bright green relief against the gray trash can lid,
stroking your proboscis with your curious hand shaped like a snake’s tongue.
Your six legs in graduated pairs:  long, longer, longest
bend constantly in 360 degree angles
as each moves in turn to your anemone mouth
which plays each like a piano
trying to stroke music from the keys.
As hand after foot after foot
vanishes into your mouth––
front flap like an apron hanging down––
I wonder if you are perhaps feeding
on nourishment too minuscule for human eyes.

Your broad chest expands and deflates like a bellows.
Praying mantis, grasshopper, leaf-hopper, pea pod––
Whatever it is you most resemble––none have your talent or your wing power.
Your alien protuberant eyes like small yellow beebees.
Now trapped in my jar, you define your glass prison with leg after leg, like a mime.
Colorful strayer from a world of green,
what do you make of this white world of mine?
I have stolen you for a closer look, and for this short hour,
You have enthralled me with your alien looks.
Your mystery.
So much I’ve been told of everything here in this new land strange to me,
each from a different point of view,
that now I feel the need to look at everything more closely for myself.
But you, in a jar, perhaps not knowing you are observed,
farm each foot in turn for something so infinitesimal,
then drum drum the glass.
“What is there?” you seem to ask.
“What is this new world?”
Nothing to nourish you here.
I sit staring in at you.
That artichoke mouth doesn’t look made for singing,
opening like petals of a flower as you put your foot in it.
Like an old man pushing himself backwards
from piece of furniture to piece of furniture,
you limp around the glass on geriatric legs and padded feet.

We move to the terrace,
where I put you down
On the leaf of a geranium
in the crumbling pot up on the wall.
Putting your heels down first,
you test each new leaf for it’s ability to support or give.
Each hand and foot is like a tiny forked penis hanging from green testicles–
the penis one forked finger, mining space
then gripping the leaf, fore and aft as your
anemone mouth
moves over it like a slice of watermelon
held the wrong way––
not side to side like a calendar illustration,
but front to back, even bites
increasing its inside arc.
In five minutes, one-fourth of the leaf is gone.
and you move to another
like a child with a cookie in each hand.
My ink run out, I leave you
And when I come back, you are invisible
against the potted geranium that I have set you down in.
Your mouth like a different insect
reaches tendril arms out for the leaf edge,
takes sharp bites–like a leaf cutter ant.
The white front flap of your mouth
sweeping the diminishing leaf edge like a vacuum cleaner.
One-quarter of the leaf gone in five minutes.
You fly to the tree branch next to me, startling me,
as finally we stand eye-to-eye at the same level.
You stand more clearly defined,
for you are the yellow green of geranium,
not the dark green of this tree.
Here you are more blended in shape than color

As you change your diet––
eating not the leaves, but stems of leaves––
you rock on a hobby horse of legs.
Your chest like bagpipes
expands and releases,
rippling like an air balloon.
Now that so many of your mysteries have been revealed,
I solve your only secret left––
the origin of your song.
You play “Las Mananitas” for your lady,
with your compadres joining for the chorus,
one wing your violin,
the other your bow.
My night newly passionless,
fills with the sounds of yours.

 

To hear Katydids, you can go HERE. And for a fascinating closeup video of what I experienced first hand above, go HERE.

See if you can distinguish “my” katydid from his background in these pictures.

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Studio Surprise

                                                                    Studio Surprise

Yesterday I spent the morning in my studio for the first time in almost a year.  Actually, I was working on my blog, but I never could get connected to the internet event though my extender and also my personal hot spot on my cell phone both registered as strong signals. I was just about to give up and go up to the house, but there are so many interesting things in my studio to photograph, that I got involved in snapping a few pictures for Cee’s new “Compose Yourself” challenge.

Then, as I gathered my camera and computer and coffee cup to go up to the house, my eyes fell on something that gave me a shock.  Surreal!  Sure, it was something I had seen before, but  definitely not in my studio!! Yet there it was, placed on top of a screwtop drink container that came with my blender, next to a jar of brushes, right by the window.  This is what I saw:

IMG_5928It was a katydid. I’d seen one this big before, on a bush outside my bedroom door the first month I’d lived in my house.  As a matter of fact, fascinated by its alien looks and behavior, I’d put it in a large jar with air holes for two hours while I observed and wrote about it; but how did this one get here?  As I snapped picture after picture, it never moved, and I realized that it must have just become trapped in my studio, died and dried out in that pose.  But what were the chances it would die in such a prominent spot?

I haven’t even been in my studio for months and since it had been totally shut up, there is no way this object could have found its way into my studio, unless it hatched out there.  But in that case, what would it have found to eat?

Then the solution occurred to me.  Yolanda had at other times arranged strange little tableaux for me and just waited patiently for me to find them.  She and Pasiano knew my fascination for insects, for instance this is one that he had brought in from the pool a few days ago:

IMG_5468I shuddered to think I’d been swimming and exercising in the pool for an hour and a half in the dark the night before! At six inches long, with pinchers the size of tweezers, that millipede could have seriously damaged me!

So, I was sure either Pasiano or Yolanda had found the dead katydid and set it up as a surprise for me.  Hilarious. (Pasiano just called this insect a chapulin which is a grasshopper.  It seems that the Spanish language does not distinguish between the two.  When I put “katydid” in a translator, it translated as “saltamante,” but when I put both names in Google Image, they showed both pictures of grasshoppers and katydids for both.

I took at least 50 more shots of the beautiful green insect, then decided to move the paintbrushes to get a better angle, and when I did, HIS ANTENNAE TWITCHED!!!!Version 3Yes, he was alive!  Quickly I got a paper towel and cupped it over the top of him and carried the blender bottle, towel, uninvited guest––all out to the hibiscus shrubbery closest to the wall next to my spare lot. By now the two dogs had developed an interest, so I placed him far out of their jumping range.

IMG_5986Can you even find him in this photo?  Here is a larger picture that might make it easier to see him in his natural habitat.
IMG_5989I looked away for a few seconds to readjust my camera and when I next tried to find him, he was gone.  I had seen no flurry of wings, no movement.  He just vanished.  When I told this story to a friend that night, he said, “How do you know?”  Ha.  He had a point.  He might have still been there. How would I have known?  All he had to to was to adjust his position slightly, and he would have become another leaf.

Lest this post become to long, I’m going to try to find the poem about the katydid I wrote 14 years ago.  If I find it, I’ll publish it tomorrow in a different post.

Always a new thrill in Mexico, where if your friends don’t furnish it, nature will!

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