I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Indeed unless the cicadas fall
I'll never see a tree at all.
There. That's my contribution to the small yet robust genre of literature known as cicada poetry, or, as I like to call it, cicadatry.
I am happy to report that the state of cicadatry is strong. I received hundreds of entries, many of them quite stellar. (If you missed yesterday's honorable mentions, go to www.washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.)
Today I present more runners-up and announce that the grand-prize winner is Conrad Berger's cicada sonnet, which in 14 stately lines encapsulates the life and longing of the lowly bug.
Shall we do this again in 17 years?
Said the cicada girls to the cicada boys,
"You can have your way, but stop that noise."
Mort Stimler, Rockville
Cicada procreation came to a halt.
They couldn't dig their way through new asphalt.
Susan Fannon, Alexandria
For many years OPEC has played us
For fools and near broke they have made us
We could say "No thanks"
If we filled our tanks
With bio-fuel made from cicadas
Garry Hallock, Austin
Demanding, driven, sure to vex,
Constant noise, little time for sex.
I can really relate
To the cicada's fate --
This all reminds me of my ex.
Lee Strong, Rochester, N.Y.
Long, mute, hidden youth
Brief, noisy adult mating --
A life backwards lived?
Lars Hanson, Washington
Tiring of their song
My dad, bathrobe clad, goes out.
"Shut up!" he hollers.
Elizabeth Pettit, Laurel
You'll be back in '38
To molt on my grave
Michael Woods, Arlington
I note a little cicada bug,
It crawleth round beneath my rug,
I'd be inclined to leave it there,
'Cept the rug is the one that replaced my hair.
Judith Judson, Arlington
I hear they're tasty
My friend ate one for a bet
I'm not that stupid
Joey Kelly, age 12, Fairfax City
Waited dark winters below
For one glorious summer above
Carried my dreams to the sun with a song
To place my few tomorrows
In the belly of a squirrel
Steve Gregg, Vienna
Senseless and still, no effort made to hide,
Then launched in air, ecstatic, drunk or blind,
What long-imprisoned instincts lie inside,
Behind red eyes, what visions fill your mind?
Are you astonished by this world you've found,
So long in darkness with the sky so near,
Or stuffed with wisdom brought from underground,
Of roots that twist and thicken, year by year?
Your hermit's life forgotten, unaware,
You join the crowds on unprotected trunks,
What is this hymn you offer to the air,
All chanting like a chapel full of monks?
"No time to wonder, here beneath the sky,
Find mates and couple, climb the trees, and die."
Conrad Berger, Hyattsville
No Flies on Them
Jenell Hawkins, the caretaker at Camp Moss Hollow in Markham, Va., reports that they didn't really get any cicadas out their way. She was a little disappointed.
Of course, they'll be experiencing a different kind of invasion June 26, when the first batch of campers descends on Moss Hollow.
Readers of The Washington Post have been helping send at-risk kids to camp since 1982. This is my first year banging the drum for donations. If you've never donated before, I hope we can go through this for the first time together. We need to raise $750,000 by July 23. So far, the total is $111,527.31.
Here's how you can contribute: Make a check or money order payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail it to: Attention, Lockbox, Department 0500, Washington, D.C. 20073-0500.
To contribute online, go to www.washingtonpost.com/camp. Click on the icon that says, "Make Your Tax-Deductible Donation."
To contribute by phone with Visa or MasterCard, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in KIDS, or 5437, and follow the instructions.
Get that last little bit of cicada obsession out of your system today during my online chat. Go to www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.