gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

Cicadas - Poem by gershon hepner

Cicadas do not bite or sting,
but one year every seventeen
they all decide to have a fling.
From underground they join the scene
in Iowa, Wisconsin and
in Michigan and Indiana,
emerging as an insect band
that storms the city like a manor.
Greengrocer/Yellow Monday, Double
Drummer can produce a noise
whose decibels cause major trouble
to hearing and the equipoise
of humans who are forced to hear
the calls made in the heat of day
by mating males who try to cheer
the females who’ve not flown away.

Tympana that receive their sound
connect to auditory tendons, but
the noise does not the males confound,
because they keep tympana shut
when they are busy serenading
females, like Don Giovanni;
no Leporellos find degrading
the mating songs that are uncanny,
although I’m sure that they can score
far more than three and thousand notches
the jealous Leporello swore
his master made on Spanish crotches.

In lengthy cycles male cicadas,
with appetites they cannot curb,
hunt females, as insect invaders
which with their mating songs disturb
idyllic summers in the great
outdoors, and make a noise
in yet one more midwestern State,
in Windy City, Illinois.


Inspired by the news that cicadas are invading Chicago again, as they do once every seventeen years. They are notorious singers. The song is a mating call produced by the males only. Each species has its own distinctive call and only attracts females of its own kind even though rather similar species may co-exist. icadas are the only insects to have developed such an effective and specialised means of producing sound. Some large species such as the Greengrocer/Yellow Monday and the Double Drummer produce a noise intensity in excess of 120 dB at close range (this is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear) . In contrast, some small species have songs so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing. The apparatus used by cicadas for singing is complex and research is still continuing on the mechanisms involved. The organs which produce sound are the tymbals, a pair of ribbed membranes at the base of the abdomen. Contracting the internal tyrnbal muscles causes the tymbals to buckle inwards and produces a pulse of sound. By relaxing these muscles, the tymbals pop back to their original position. In some cicada species, a pulse of sound is produced as each rib buckles. Both male and female cicadas have organs for hearing. A pair of large, mirror-like membranes, the tympana, receive the sound. The tympana are connected to an auditory organ by a short tendon. When a male sings, it creases the tympana so that it won't be deafened by its own noise. Many species of cicada sing during the heat of the day. The loud noise produced by some day-singing cicadas actually repels birds, probably because the noise is painful to the birds' ears and interferes with their normal communication. The males of many cicada species, including the Greengrocer/Yellow Monday, and the Double Drummer, tend to group together when calling which increases the total volume of noise and reduces the chances of bird predation. Some cicada species only sing at dusk. Often these species are weak fliers (as in the case of the Bladder Cicada) . They gain some protection from predatory birds by confining their activity to dusk.

5/31/07


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poem Edited: Saturday, March 5, 2011


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