Narrative Poem: Lightning Bugs

Updated on May 4, 2018

Lightning Bugs or Firelies

Lightning bugs or fireflies are not insects or bugs. They are flying beetles with lanterns of light, a bio-chemical reaction, sending out invitations to the opposite sex. Living in California, the lightning bug is one thing I miss seeing in the summertime, so I could only reminisce. Outside on a warm summer night in Philadelphia, my friends and I would chase the lightning bugs and try to grab a few to collect and explore. It all felt so innocent, a favorite activity for a young boy, although my mother didn't see it that way.

Poem: Lightning Bugs

When I was a kid,
lightening bugs
meant a summer night
and playing hide and seek
with my friends.

They’re called fireflies
my mom would say,
and stop chasing
those poor things.

I ignored my mother
and put them
inside a glass jar
and forgot to punch holes
in the lid.

Then I would wonder
why their precious lights
went out,
why they didn’t flutter

I’d shake the jar
to wake them up,
to make them glow again,
as if I were
their creator.

Then I’d hide in the bushes
when it wasn’t my turn to seek,
and only later
would I catch more
when they signaled for me
from the sky.

Sometimes I’d hold them
tightly in my hands,
feeling their tickling bodies
to break loose.

I told my friends
not to pull off their
hard beetle wings
or smash their fiery

As the years
I stopped chasing
those luminescent

I no longer collected
and tortured
their fragile

I stopped calling them
lightening bugs,
no longer hid
from my friends
and tried to control
other living things.

Fireflies, my mother said.
Don’t try to catch them,
just watch and enjoy.

Questions & Answers


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      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 6 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks, Dora.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 7 days ago from The Caribbean

        Great childhood story told in verse. The playful poetic form is so appropriate. Good work!

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 11 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks Li-Jen for reading Lightning Bugs.

      • Li-Jen Hew profile image

        Li-Jen Hew 11 days ago from Malaysia

        Hello Mark. Glad you followed what your mum said and perspective changes. Thank you for sharing your story through your poem. Haha, lightening bugs, cool name! :)

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 11 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Eventually, I started to agree with my mother. I couldn't deny her wisdom any longer.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 12 days ago from london

        I agree with your mother. Nevertheless you were young and very sincere. Much love.

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 2 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Tim, I’m glad you highlighted the point about awareness and compassion. That’s one good thing about growing older. Thanks for your excellent feedback.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

        Thanks, Mark. Great memories. I believe my mom said the same thing to me and I did the same thing: catch those little fellows and watch them glow in a glass jar.

        But I like where your poem goes: we are now enlightened, recognizing that we are merely tiny creatures compared to our universe; we have the fire inside now from awareness. Now, we must bring light to darkness around us. When we chance fire flies in the North Carolina evening, your poem will be remembered.

        Beautiful poem with powerful images.



      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 2 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks, Hari.

      • shprd74 profile image

        Hari Prasad S 2 weeks ago from Bangalore

        Mark, Lovely memories captured. Retro stuff. Thanks for writing.

        - Hari