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Carolina Grasshopper


The Carolina grasshopper—you’ve likely seen one,

And if you have it surely saw you first,

From a stricken stony waste in blazing sun,

A baking country road or field in summer thirst;

It’s grounded there beside one slender shadow—its own,

Like a strewn gray splinter of lichenous stone;

And should you unknowingly venture too near,

There—it launches off in the trademark manner,

With a dust-dry fluttering you suddenly hear

Of its plum-and-yellow crepe-paper banner;

And once aloft it zigs and zags away,

Until, that's far enough, it might just say,

And doubles-back a bit and folds and falls to earth,

Just steps away from you, but—well, where is it?

Where on the clay or stone, for all you’re worth?

You may never learn without a second visit—

An unwelcome visit, to where it once had been,

For it’s seldom seen before—there, it’s off again.


Carolina grasshoppers—they don’t hop or fiddle,

And meadows in splendor are not to their taste;

No, like the sphinx with its baffling riddle

They seem to prefer some dry weedy waste.

 And their mint-green bros with the natty gold stripe

Would not be caught dead in their stone phenotype.

Not for these locusts the nightmarish swarms—

How would they know if the year’s crop’s a bumper?

They’re not the orthopters plaguing the farms

And never more than a poor puddle-jumper.

For them barren vistas and solar solitude,

And any intrusion they deem rather rude—

Unless it's one of their own, by chance.

And you think they right-away couple or fight?

No! Most often they kick their legs up in dance—

They have a hoedown, as desert fathers might.

Ah, Carolina grasshoppers!—they too live for fun,

As unchaste monks in their order of the Sun.

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