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Ode to Monarchs

By Dean Norman

“Viva! Ole! Carrumba!” The monarchs were feasting on my butterfly bush and practicing their Spanish on their way through Cleveland to Mexico in mid August.

This generation will live eight or nine months instead of one month. I hollered to my wife, “Come and see a flock of monarch butterflies!” She brought her camera, but said only five butterflies were not a flock. I thought there might be six. They wouldn’t hold still long enough to count them for sure.

Monarch butterflies are the poster children, the ambassadors, for insects.

They don’t sting, they don’t eat crops, they don’t transmit disease to people, they don’t get so abundant that they blind motorists on highways at night (like mayflies do). They are pretty, and their life story is so interesting that schools teach it to try to get the next generation to love butterflies ... and other insects. That's because people would probably die if all the insects died and didn’t pollinate our crops, making food for other animals. I don’t understand that well enough to talk about it, but I think it may be true.

So, I thought I would write an Ode to Monarchs. I think an ode is a poem that praises someone or something. OK, a poem should rhyme. A proper poem. Some poets write poems that don’t rhyme, but those never become popular with the masses who think poems should rhyme.

So what rhymes with monarch? Ark, arc, bark, Clark, dark, flark (is that a word?), gark, hark, lark, mark, park, quark, snark, shark. I give up. The words that rhyme with monarch don’t inspire noble thoughts. And the “arch” in monarch is not the syllable that is punched. So I think you would have to rhyme both syllables. ON arc.

I leave it to a pro poet to write an Ode to Monarchs. I just hope that one or more of the butterflies that feasted on my butterfly bush makes it to Mexico, and makes a contribution to the next generation. I have planted milkweed, cone flowers, blue lobelia, ox eye sunflowers, snow asters, woodland sunflowers, wing stem, goldenrod and pokeweed. But the non-native butterfly bush, which experts tell you not to plant, is the one they like best.

Go monarchs! You don’t need visas to cross our southern border. Not yet.

— Dean Norman

Dean Norman
 is a cartoonist and humor writer, whose work has appeared in greeting cards,The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine and The Kansas City Star. He's also written comedy for cartoon shows and written and illustrated children's books. He illustrated a cartoon book for Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks Adventures.

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