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Proud to show off my daughter Nyssa’s latest artwork for Woman with Landscape.

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TWO BAD BEDBUGS VISIT NEW YORK: A Bloodthirsty Tale

Felice and Festus were two bad bedbugs. They came from a long line of bloodsuckers out west. An adventurous pair, they packed their bags and headed to New York City for an all-you-can-eat vacation. Those two bad bedbugs touched down at the airport, itching for a good time. They hitched a ride to their hotel with an unsuspecting businessman.

“Oh, Festus, the honeymoon suite. Isn’t this fancy!”
“Only the best for my love bug.”
“And look at the view!” squeaked Felice.
“Ah, the city that never sleeps! I can’t wait to check out the night life.”
“And I can’t wait to go shopping. Don’t forget your comfortable shoes, Festus!”

The bedbugs hopped onto the New York Nighttime Skyline bus tour. “Whee!” squealed Felice. “Feel the wind in your antennae.”

They zipped past the Empire State building. “Awesome!” cheered Festus, eyeing a large tourist.

At Time Square Felice and Festus jumped off and joined the crowds with their cameras.
“Lights. Cameras. Action!” shouted Festus.
“Festus, I feel like a movie star.”
“Dinner?” asked Festus, licking his lips and scanning the crowd.
“And a show.” Felice gazed longingly at the Spiderman poster.

Just then, Felice spotted the designer handbag of her dreams.
“Festus, it’s to die for!” Before he could stop her, she leaped into the bag.
“Don’t get carried away my honeybug!” Festus jumped in after her.

Felice and Festus zipped downtown in a cab, and were carried aboard the Staten Island ferry. Felice peeked out of the handbag. “Look! It’s the Statue of Liberty. Festus, suck in your gut and let me get a picture.”
“Felice, I’m feeling a little queasy . . . must have been somebody I ate.”

Luckily, a passing pigeon came to their rescue. A short time later they touched down at Wall Street.
“Wowy-Zowy! Wait ’til the boys back home see this,” crowed Festus, striking a pose on top of the Wall Street bull.
“Next stop Chinatown,” called the pigeon.

Festus bought himself a souvenir T-shirt—I Took a Bite out of the Big Apple.
They were about to try some local delicacies, when Felice shrieked, “Crunching cockroaches, Festus, scuttle for your life!” Pursued by a gang of tough looking roaches, they managed to escape down a sewer grating just in the nick of time.

Safe at last, those feisty bedbugs rode the subway uptown and sneaked into the Natural History Museum. It was time for a midnight snack. “Pah!” Festus spat out a mouthful of dried elephant hide. “This stuff is for the dust mites. I’m out of here.”

Felice snuggled up to Festus and looked up at the moon over Central Park. “Ah, that’s more like it—a romantic carriage ride with my little bugaboo.”

Back at their hotel, Felice and Festus enjoyed a succulent feast.
“A toast to New York,” said Festus. “A bloody wonderful city.”
“Festus, if I drink another drop I’ll burst,” sighed Felice. “The portions here are humungous. I must have gained 10 grams.”

At last, that bloodthirsty pair came to the end of their vacation. Felice and Festus, two bad bedbugs, cozied up for the long journey home.

Text & images © Melissa Shaw-Smith

Text & images © Melissa Shaw-Smith

 

SYMPHONY

My garden symphonyDSCF6406

I walk around the house in the summer twilight
opening windows
letting in the insect orchestra
katydids run scales in the tree tops
crickets, the violins of summer
carry the tune from tree and field and bush
an owl makes its first exploratory sounding
of the evening, three solitary hoots—no reply
the night rhythm begins

Warm August air pushes through the hammock
mosquitoes whine by my ankles
and through a hole in the canopy
I watch bats shadow puppet
against a column of darkening sky
I strain to catch the thread of each vibration
each pattern, rhythm, pitch
a unique life cycle
a specific niche filled
a gorgeous tapestry of sound

It’s carnival this time of year
no sooner has one reveler bowed out
than the next chorus crowds in from the wings
the belligerent rise and fall of the dog day cicadas
makes way for the ululations of the grey tree frogs
at high noon the meadow shimmered
with the stridulation of grasshoppers
and now young coyotes yip and howl
as they prowl the long grasses

Sunlight creeps into the garden once more
illuminating tomatoes tear-dropped with dew
songbirds and crows take to the stage
and under the stone in the wall
the constant cricket sings.

TAMING A ROBIN

European_Robin_Singing-1Ten, and half in love
With a boy in a book.
He had the gift
The gentle way to tame
A bird or timid creature.
Like him, I fancied I could
Win the confidence of a bird.

Common or garden,
The robin did me no favors
His curiosity, age-old
Had him poking his beak
In gardeners’ business
Long before my time.
Still, I flattered myself
He liked the lilt in my voice
And the soft whistle through half grown teeth.

With the patience of a heron
I stood unmoving
In blackberry scented air,
Hand outstretched with
Crumbs for a peace offering.

Cocking his head on one side

He hopped

            And hopped

                        Tossed aside a fallen leaf

            Pretending business

One beady black eye on me
All the while.
He came so close
I could see
The fluttering of his red breast—
And no closer.

He sought me out
The next day and the next.
Down at the beech tree
We grew quite chatty
The pair of us . . . never understanding a word the other said.
I wonder if he boasted
In the hedgerow
Of the strange human child
He’d managed to beguile
With his soft chirps and bright eyes.