Found art


Hi everyone,

Yesterday I spotted this lone bagworm attached to the side of a house. It brought back memories of when we lived on Cherry Street in Springfield and our shrubs were being eaten alive by bagworms. We paid Robin and Jeff to pluck them off. As I recall, the going rate was five cents each.

Neither sibling found the job to their liking. We haven’t heard the last of it yet. I told them that when I was a kid I had the same chore at our house and didn’t get paid at all. They didn’t care about my stories of the old days.

I sent Jeff this picture last night and told him he missed one. He said for $100 he’d pluck it. Inflation is a terrible thing. For that matter, so is a smart alec.

If the picture prompts a poem or two, have at it.


27 comments on “Found art

  1. Warning–I didn’t know the poem was going to go there.

    Plucking the Bagworm

    OK, so it wasn’t a bagworm,
    but a caterpillar moth
    in its ragged grey cloak,
    with its hundreds of cousins.

    OK, so we didn’t pay the kids,
    but made a game of it,
    a medieval rescue mission
    to save our favorite trees.

    OK, so it was a holocaust
    for the worms, plucked
    from their grey safty nets
    and flung into the fire.

    OK, so history doesn’t allow
    a metaphor with worms.
    In memory it exists:
    the unheard screams.

    The clang of oven doors,
    picking the gold from teeth,
    stacking bones like cordwood,
    the grey of ash.

    ©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Oh, you two going on about the bagworms. Well you should see one of my evergreen bushes that was stripped to the bone with teardrop ornaments at each tip waiting to be lit for Christmas with a match like a hanging candle.

    • Aha! A victim of the dreaded little beasties weighs in! You’re so right, Mary Nida. They can and do strip a shrub right down to its underwear.

  3. David–I love the ambiguity of your last line–who is whining, children or worms? Or both? And should killers or killed whine? Should we care? When we make animals things, when we make people animals–are their whines less important? Am I on my way to becoming a Buddhist? Am I thinking this way because I am writing a Holocaust novel? Or just still wresting with Amethesia Brain 27 days after my operation?

    See how many things pop up from a single, short, ambiguous last line of a haiku! Well done, old friend. (And by old does she mean she’s calling DH old when she’s probably older than he is? Or that they have been friends for (actual) (metaphorical) (just seems that way) years?

    And who cares anyway–it’s just a damned haiku, 3 lines. The Japanese do it with more elegance anyway. And the Haiku Society has a cow (metaphoric) anytime one of us plebes writes a haiku to that strict (in Japanese only) 5/7/5 syllable line. And who appointed them haiku gods anyway. Haiku Nazis rather.


    • Aha! Thank you, Jane, for going straight to the point of the poem. And are we all whiners and is the ageless act itself a way to relieve stress like letting air from a balloon to hold us in orbit? So if I’d said screaming instead of whining wouldn’t that change the fundamental question to how we react to anguish rather than frustration? And yes the haiku is hard for English writers because we must settle for an approximation of the original Japanese sound and I bet somewhere a Japanese poet just puddled his paddy because yet another round eye has abused his precious ancient form, striving toward humor rather than to admire another apple blossom.

      And yes, I am your old friend both literally and metaphorically and comfortable in both skins and happy that you are gaining strength and leaving pain behind you. Pre-Buddhist or not, your back is back and so are you and I say hip hip hooray. (That wasn’t exactly a pun but it was in the general area.)

  4. Meanwhile, back at the bagworm:

    Bagworms munching on our shrubs,
    Kill our greenery for a snack,
    Hateful job to pluck them off,
    Enough to fill a grocery sack.
    The perfect job for kids to do.
    We’ll pay them well
    and swear
    It’s not pay back.

  5. Back to the Bagworm

    Bag or baggy,
    Worm or wormy
    I hates you
    Because you’re squirmy.

    I hates you
    Because you’re whiny,
    Can’t tell head
    From your worm heiny.

    I hates you
    Cause you cause death
    Of all my trees
    With your worm breath.

    I consign your
    And all your awful

    To that hot fire,
    Wormy hell.
    Tonight I will sleep
    Very well.

    ©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

    • Jeff and Robin would have set this one to music and chanted it while they bent over the shrubs and complained that the bagworms kept creeping back out of their sacks. “I consign your/Worminess/And all your awful/squirminess//To that hot fire,/Wormy hell.” Gotta love those lines!

  6. I realize that some of you may find the bagworm to be a lovely creature worthy of our admiration. This bag’s for you.

    Robed in rude sack cloth
    adorned with humble pine needle-work
    you finish your final meal
    and hang like a painting on the wall.

    Head down inside your silent chamber
    you change clothes, leave behind
    the urgent hungerings of youth
    to don responsibilities of motherhood,
    to await, mouthless, legless, wingless,
    the mate who will fly to your pheromones,
    insert himself into your sack
    so you can lay your eggs and die.

    A thousand more will come from you,
    each challenged to eat, survive,
    live life inside a sack,
    and one day hang as you,
    a portrait of your family’s future.

  7. Great poem, strong ending. I know a lot of women like that, too. Sigh. And not just from my mother’s era. Plus senators who should know better who think of women this way,

  8. Those are heartfelt memories, mine are similar and so is the reply that I would have received from one of my boys. It’s a different world and my 95 year old father would agree, doubled!

  9. Reminds me of this story… different point of view.

    My oldest sister
    Acting like mother
    Forbade me to pick
    The cicada’s split shells

    She said they were icky
    And gross, and a “lady”
    Would not want to touch them.
    I thought they were swell.

    Marooned on creaky porch,
    Waylaid in my search for shrubs
    By shoes stomping in all directions;
    Trudging over slats, praying no one
    Crushes my being, I beg this cruel
    Universe to let me survive so I can
    Find my supper among these creatures
    Who are devouring theirs.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.

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