green lacewing

This lacewing may be experiencing a teachable moment. I know I was: up late dreading poetry, I suddenly realized I was dreading over someone else’s shoulder. It must’ve come in through a hole in the screen door, and perhaps thought — erroneously, of course — that the computer screen was another way out.

Green lacewings are as sensitive as they look. Their hearing is so acute that some species can even pick up bats’ sonar, whereupon they fold their wings and plummet to the ground to avoid capture. They communicate through subtle vibrations of the body, especially during courtship — inaudible “songs” unique to each species.

This was not always such a sensitive being, though. In its wild youth as an aphid-lion it ate any soft-bodied invertebrate in its path, and was even capable of resorting to cannibalism if no other food was handy. It had large sucking jaws with which to grasp its prey and inject stomach acid, turning the other’s insides into a Slurpee.

If you too are up late tonight, you might still have time to confess your poetic sins before “100% Honest Day” is over at Read Write Poem. Here’s what I wrote:

I have a deep-seated fear of unconscious plagiarism, to the point where I even suspect all my best lines and images to be stolen from someone else. One of the main reasons for my lack of enthusism for publishing my work anywhere other than my own blog is the fear that someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of modern poetry will discover my unwitting thefts. And even if I could know for sure that all my works are original, I would probably continue to feel at some level that I am an utter fraud as a poet. (I wonder if this is why so many of my fellow poets get MFAs?)

If I want to overcome this fear, I think I simply need to retrain my ears. Surely it can’t be too difficult to learn to distinguish one’s own unique vibrations from anybody else’s. My aphid-lion days are, after all, well behind me now.

7 Replies to “Lacewing”

  1. “Surely it can’t be too difficult to learn to distinguish one’s own unique vibrations from anybody else’s.”

    I have a whole world of things to say around that statement — getting at the shifting meaning of the word individuality and what is unique and a whole musical tangent that could take thousands of words to get into.

    But I am tuckered out. So I will save that for when we talk next. And for now, I will just say — great freaking photo. Hi, lacewing!

    1. No, I insist that you come back here and unload all your thoughts. Or better yet: blog it, and send a pingback. It sounds like it could make a memorable post.

      Glad you liked the photo!

  2. I’ve worried about that too. A few months ago I posted a poem on my site and a friend commented that she liked it, but thought the last lines sounded familiar. Terrified, I googled like crazy to find where I’d stolen the line. Later I found that they were from a poem I had written a few years earlier, one that I had shown her. Even though I had only plagiarized myself, I still didn’t like the feeling.

    1. Yeah, I’ve done that! It does help to have regular readers, doesn’t it? I just wish the WordPress developers would hurry up and introduce a better search function. I think that was one of the projects at this year’s “summer of code.”

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