You say cicada, I say locust

Cicadas shed their skin
Back in Missouri where I grew up, we had an insect about the size of the end of your thumb that folks called locusts.

The proper name for these critters was “cicadas,” but for me, they will always be locusts.

These bugs made a terrible racket when they started their serenade. Some sources say the noise is so loud it can damage the human ear.

I won’t take that bet. They can be exceedingly annoying.

But they are also fascinating because they molt and leave behind an almost perfect exoskeleton. As a kid, I would collect these artifacts like little relics.

My fellow poet over at Dancing Echoes recently wrote a haiku about these creatures.

Dancing Echoes does a great job coming close to the original idea of haiku.

The old haiku masters combined words with beautiful calligraphy and drawings to form a total experience.

Dancing Echoes pairs each poem with a beautiful photograph. In this effort, she approaches the complete experience achieved by the old masters. You could say it’s haiku for the modern age.

The cicada haiku from Dancing Echoes reminded me of an old poem sitting in my files gathering dust. It’s not haiku. But it does feature a cicada — or rather, a locust.


Sometimes in the moonlight
The feeling comes afresh,
The old familiar feeling,
The aching of the flesh.

Sometimes in the summer
The noisy locust strains
Against the skin that holds him.
To shed his crusty chains.

When the trees grow weary
Of their summer masquerade,
And fallen leaves are gathered
I hunger for the shade

Of limbs that never falter
And love that never cools,
Where ruin never alters,
And where death never rules.

Published by

Bobby Ball

I love poetry. But I'm picky. No one pays me to read and write poems. It's more of a labor of love. I guess that puts me in good company. This is a project to discover why some poems strike you deep, deep down, while others leave you cold. I've got some ideas, and I'm eager to learn. I'll show you some of mine. Maybe we'll learn something new.

6 thoughts on “You say cicada, I say locust”

  1. Bobby, wow, I don’t know what to say but thank you, I appreciate your kind words. When I started writing poems to match my photography (and sometimes visa versa) I had no idea where it would go. I am just glad I can channel all my nerdiness into something constructive. Your work is amazing and it is an honor to be in such good company. This is a wonderful poem and photo. Oh, and I agree with you on the locust thing. Growing up in Maryland I vividly remember my first 17 Year Locust experience at 9 and I collected every shell I could find. Sadly this species doesn’t reach FL but we do have plenty of other species that can sing so loud they can drown ou normal conversation. To steal a phrase, a locust by any other name would sound as sweet. Many thanks again.


    1. Christy, as soon as I first saw your work I recognized the work of a grown-up. I’ve been enjoying your poems from the family gathering. What a rich tradition you have. It speaks to my own Scotch-Irish roots on my mother’s side. Her people came through the hills and hollers of Appalachia to wind up in Missouri. I await each post from you with anticipation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Dancing Echoes and commented:
    Please check out the wonderful poem below by Bobby Ball at Poetic Champions on a subject near and dear to my heart, Cicadas. If you don’t already follow him, you should check him out. And he had kind words for me too.


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