Banjo, luna

banjo and leaf

Inspired by my uncle’s banjo, I spent a couple hours this morning revising some of my banjo poems. I’m beginning to think the series may have a future, but many of the poems still aren’t all they could be. I know because of the slight boredom they inspire in me — the feeling that I’ve had those thoughts too many times before. When I write a poem, I want to encounter at least one thing I’ve never seen before.

After supper, my brother got out his own banjo and played a few tunes. So a day that began with clawhammer ended with bluegrass. Except that wasn’t quite the end, because just after dark someone spotted a newly emerged luna moth on the side of a black walnut tree in the yard. It was just one tree over and one day later than last year’s luna moth. As I watched with a flashlight, a harvestman gangled up with the small, lifeless body of a spider dangling from its mandibles and stopped. The moth took a half-step back and its enormous antennae quivered for a second.

luna moth with harvestman

(See also the photo on my sadly neglected photoblog.)

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. I found a dead luna moth on one of my weekly hikes, a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t realize then that’s what it was, (even though the color made me think of them) because I’d somehow gotten the idea that they were twice the size they actually are. But when I saw the eyespots in your photo, I said “I’ve seen that!” and actually looked them up, and yep, it was a luna.


    1. I think such creatures are inevitably diminsihed by death. The wings of a living luna are furry and glistening, and their legs look like pipe cleaners.


      1. Well, most anything is diminished by death!

        The loss of their individual motion and behavior, and most of their relationship to the creatures around them (as with yours, wary of the scavenging harvestman). (PS: I was interested to find that “harvestmen” include the “daddy longlegs” I commonly see, as well as other sorts (including yours) I wouldn’t call by that name… I always identified daddy longlegs half by the oval body. (Yeah, you sent me to Google & Wikipedia again! ;-) )

        The luna corpse I saw was missing its legs, and the underside was a mass of white fluff that might or might not have been fungus, but certainly didn’t look healthy.

        PS: On last Friday’s hike we spotted a 3-inch walking-stick — an unusual sighting for me, not least because of their camo!


  2. It took me a moment to realize this was a magnificent luna. At first glance, it looked like a wizard seen from behind (blond braided hair gathered at the back, an emerald green cape, balancing a broken tree on his forehead).


    1. Those eyespots are particularly uncanny….


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