FEMALE FIREFLIES AND I
Macho fireflies that flash
their signals to the females which
they hope will wink and let them crash
with them, relieving id and itch,
find out, as soon as they’re beside them,
that they must die and be devoured
while trying to have fun inside them.
By feeding, females are empowered,
as soon as males have been digested,
immune to all the greedy spiders,
a species fireflies detest;
they float around as firegliders,
hunting for more males who’re randy
and learn too late, when they are dorsal,
that making love ain’t fine and dandy
for males who are a dainty morsel.
When I flash you, do not blink twice
if you intend to eat me, or to call
the squad that is in charge of vice,
for that would not be nice at all.
Blink only if you are prepared
to let me go once I have laid you,
and do not cause me to be scared
if, when I leave, I haven’t paid you.
I’m not a firefly, you know,
but just a human male in search
of fun with dames who make me glow,
and don’t harm me in their research.
If I am to be eaten, I
would rather it be by a spider
than by a female firefly
who, inhumanely, acts rough rider.
Many dames think I’m a doufus,
like Groucho, ducking in the soup
he got into when known as Rufus
Firefly, inglorious dupe.
Since I, like him, fear greedy guts,
I make sure while I’m making love
to guard my heart and soul and nuts,
whether under or above.
Photuris fireflies obtain their lucibufagins from male fireflies of the Photinus species. Gina Kolata reports (NYT, 9/2/97) that Thomas Eisner at Cornell showed that the lucibufagins that the females ingest when they eat the males protect them from hungry spiders.
I polished this poem on 7/1/09 after reading about Sara Lewis’s work with fireflies reported by Carl Zimmer in the NYT, June 20, 2009 (“Blink Twice if You Like Me).
© 1997 Gershon Hepner 9/2/97, 7/1/09