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Narrative Poem: Lightning Bugs

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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

Question: What is the plot of the narrative poem, "Lightning Bugs"?

Answer: It is the young boy’s relationship with lightning bugs, and how it changes as he becomes an adult.

© 2018 Mark Tulin