The Long Dream of a Cicada

(originally published in Up The Staircase Quarterly)

In the fiftieth year of our marriage
we hear singing under the house.
The kitchen seems to be the heart of it
so we sit there
and take apart the floorboards
with our fingernails
until it is found crooning–
the box of cherry wood
held together by honey
and filled with cicadas.
Fifty years they were here.
Fifty years I knelt at their coffin
and worshipped how they
Fifty years they were dying
and now, like swans,
they trumpet the end.
I made this for you.
I fell the tree.
I built the casket.
I gathered the insects
and set them inside.
I picked the wings from their backs
and like this I became God to them.
Because they loved me so immensely,
they did not sing
for half of a century.
They slept and dreamed of flight in summer,
of a tree that lived
and grew red fruit.
And for what?
To become, in their last hour,
a music box
in your big palm.
Didn’t you stay like them?
Do they call you away now?
If you leave the house
you will find wings, they say.
Bushels of wings.
Creatures rattling the thick air
​with the instruments of their sovereign bodies.

People who live through an outbreak of 17 year cicadas have a truly unique life experience. They will tell you that it’s like a plague out of the old testament. I remember it happened my sophomore year of college.

Fic Rec: Let the Current Carry Us

Author: perfectpro
Link: Let the Current Carry Us
Pairing: Jack/Kent
Rating: Mature
Word Count: ~37k
Summary: Jack hums and smiles, but otherwise doesn’t respond. They sit in silence, and he bites his tongue to keep from saying anything. There is no sense disrupting this fragile peace that they have. // Here is the deal he has made with himself: Jack is forbidden, until after the curse of the seventeenth summer. Kent does not want to do anything to let the gods know how they could hurt him the worst.


I am reccing this fic because honestly it is a tragedy that it doesn’t have more kudos. Want something to wreck you?? Pre-canon pimms. And truly, any fic based on the post “like cicadas, every seventeen years, Kent Parson screams for an entire summer” deserves more angst-loving readers. 

This fic is incredibly done, with magic (!!!!) and fate and wonderful OC’s. If you read it please scream with me. That is all. Thank you.

movie concept: an alien species that, like cicadas, sleeps underground for years at a time. Humans visit this planet thinking “wow! so great! what a nice planet” but no, jokes on you fuckers 50 years of peaceful living and then the Cicada Demons emerge


Scully loved the little house. A few acres of land, a hundred feet of frontage on a perfectly round, quiet lake. On the first weekend she and Mulder set up a hammock between two trees, just a few feet from the water’s edge. It was a cicada year, and on humid summer afternoons she fell asleep to the sound of their singing.

At sunset she’d sit out on the dock with a glass of wine, letting her feet dip into the water. Mulder would watch her from the screened back porch, his laptop resting on a wicker table the home’s previous owners had left behind. He’d write a few thousand words about the monsters in their past, then join her outside in the peaceful present.

Neither of them ever expected their lives to look like this. So quiet, so calm. It had been so many years since they’d lived in the summer air, tasting the water and the sunlight and all of the green things of the world.

11.19 - queer parallels

So 11.19 was, for many, reminiscent of episodes of older TV shows, usually sci-fi or fantasy or gothic, where the ‘issue’ of the main text has parallels to a deliberate queer subtext. And many have been praising 11.19 for having actual queer character in the main text as well as the subtext (and I totally agree, this is awesome).

But I wanted to talk about some of the parallels.

I know many have been addressed already. Such as the lady who denied her husband was taken by the chitters, and made up ‘mundane’ excuses for why he left. The old sheriff who cut his daughter out of his life after she was taken by the chitters.

But I wonder about the two girls who’s story originally brought the case to Sam and Dean’s attention. Libby and Cori, I think their names were. I found an interesting queer parallel in them, mostly in the way that everyone treats Cori (the survivor). Because the others - the woman who lost her husband, the sheriff who lost his daughter - are meant to be perceived as ‘normal’ (or straight) who lost their loved ones to the ‘weird’ (or queer) but they are not weird / queer themselves. The two girls, however, both experienced the creature (just like Jesse and Matty), and Libby didn’t make it (just like Matty). This leaves Cori in a similar situation to Jesse where no one believes her. Where Jesse is ignored because of his young age, or possibly his homosexuality; Cori is ignored because she was ‘the weed girl.’ The weed makes her unreliable. The weed makes her friend unreliable and almost unworthy of proper concern.

When do we actually hear Cori’s name? Not until Dean actually talks to her in the interview room. Until then everyone refers to her as 'the friend’ or 'the witness’ or just something along the lines of 'weed girl’. This to me was doing a few things. One - bringing up the weed makes her a stereotype and reminds everyone that she’s not reliable in their eyes. Two - calling her not by her name seems to dehumanise her. Three - calling her 'the friend’ over and over felt similar to when folks are uncomfortable with a queer couple and refer to them as 'friends’. I’m not here to argue whether Libby and Cori were meant to be a lesbian couple. I think if they were then they would have come out and said it, considering the rest of the episode. But they were mean to be two friends who cared for each other, then came into contact with the chitters and things went bad, but then no one would help them or take them seriously because of their lifestyle - in this case, weed. And we even get Sam later linking weed with 'experimenting in collage’ and other excuses like 'it was probably oregano’ as in it didn’t count.

I just felt like Libby and Cori and their weed were meant to contribute to the subtext here as well.

Submitted by Anonimae.

Thank you for the submission!

I’m just going to add my own thoughts to yours (I have a lot of fledglings for ideas, but I’m still very much pressed for time, so they may have to wait until the end of the season, but here goes).

Yes, I definitely thought the girls were both important symbols and narrative parallels. Both Jesse and Cory were dressed in red plaid and both Cesar and Libby were in a light shirt, Libby even having a maroon vest that resembled in color the hoodie Castiel wore during the ninth season. Libby, possessed by evil, and Cesar were narrative mirrors for Castiel – but it’s interesting that this figure in red plaid keeps accompanying him. We saw it recently in Safe House, we’ve seen it earlier in the season, and we saw it in the very scene of the very first episode of Carver’s narrative arc.

The thing that it is waiting for Dean Winchester at the end of the line is a pair of people – one in a white shirt with dark hair, and the other dressed in red plaid.

Cesar has a white t-shirt, and this has everything to do with symbolism because having a white t-shirt on a hunt, in a forest, is never not the wrong choice. And it’s not humanly possible for his t-shirt to remain as white as it is at the end of the episode with dirt and guts flying around. So again we have the character in red plaid and the character in a white shirt paired off as foils for Dean.

Again Dean meets them deep in the forest. Again one of them has dark hair and the other is in red plaid. But in Jesse and Cesar, their characters bleed into one another. Cesar, the Castiel mirror, is Mexican (so we may assume that he speaks Spanish) and laid back whereas Jesse (a rendering of the Hebrew Ishay) is the one with a stick up his butt and who lost an older brother to the darkness. They contain aspects of the other.

However you interpret the shirts, you can’t deny that they keep following him.

So, the girls were another layer of the same symbolism in the episode. It’s interesting that both of their names recall the heart: Cory (Latin) and Libby (Hebrew) – especially regarding the fact that we see Jesse stab the monster’s heart multiple times. The heart is key.

Cory and Libby’s scene also very much parallels Lucifer and Dean’s encounter the week before, establishing Libby and Cesar as the Castiel mirrors.

But I also wondered whether we were meant to understand that the girls were also a romantic couple in the episode. We learn of them through the town’s sheriff, according to whom they have been smoking weed in the forest. Friends do that, certainly. But they seemed very close, Cory’s mourning very fresh, and I don’t think we were given any indication that they weren’t a romantic couple. And in this regard, it’s very interesting, like you pointed out, how Dean uses Cory’s name.

Dean calls her Ganja-girl to others, giving nick-names his way of protecting himself from making attachments to people that they so frequently meet. The nick-names create a distance between the object and the user. But there was a lot in Ganja-girl for Dean to like and to relate to, and they seem to have formed some kind of connection. You can see this in the way Dean answers the phone when she calls with “Cory, calm down!” Dean uses her first name.

As “Agent Lewis,” he ought to have called her Ms. So-and-so, which is the professional address, but instead he addressed her like a friend. This is important. It means that Dean very much connected to her, to the point that she called him instead of the police, the sympathetic local sheriff, when she needed help. And we can ask whether it was just the weed (and penises) over which they connected, or whether it was something more than that.

Make note of the fact that Dean’s extremely campy “Sinner. Rebel!” scene followed immediately after his interview with Cory. The mood he was in was a result of his interview with her. I wonder whether he learned that Libby was Cory’s girlfriend and simply omitted this fact from Sam as we’ve seen him omit people’s orientations in the past, not outing them to his brother. He saw Cory as a friend, of this much we can be sure via his address. But I wonder whether he also saw her as family. And I wonder whether Cory told him in so many words, or whether he just knew.

The scene in the forest wasn’t just reminiscent of the scene at 100-Mile Wilderness at the beginning of the arc, there were definite shades of Wendigo in it (as pointed out by @mittensmorgul). I’ve been of the opinion for a while that the narrative arc is running back toward the beginning, having been inverted from the beginning of season eight, and that we are closing in on the beginning. Wendigo is the second episode, was the beginning of Dean’s own narrative arc on the show where the Pilot was focused on Sam’s journey, which indicates that we are close to the climax.

The Wendigo creature (“an evil spirit”), like the Cicada spirits, killed in a cycle – in its case, a 23-year cycle where the Cicadas had a 27-year cycle. An the Wendigo needed to be burned, like they burned the Cicada nest. These are not co-incidences but intentional parallels.

And I wondered, at the time, about this situation of three guys and two tents, when the tents weren’t that small at all. Three guys, three tents or three guys, one tent would make sense. One guy giving two other guys privacy (and do make note of where Tommy looks when he says “We”) makes you think. And one of Tommy’s friends that was killed by the Wendigo was called Gary – a possible inspiration for Cory’s name. In any case, I wondered about Gary and Brad at the time, and again we learn nothing to suggest that they weren’t a couple, just like with Cory and Libby.

But The Chitters is an inverted parallel to Wendigo, and you can see this especially well at the end.

At the end of Wendigo, Dean makes light of the emotional moment because he’s protecting himself. He gives Haley a saucy look to which she responds “Must you cheapen the moment?” Dean is vulnerable and keeping his distance. At the end of The Chitters they likewise have a heavy, emotional moment with the guest stars. Dean is in pain. He doesn’t cheapen the moment, he doesn’t make light of it to escape the emotional toll, he feels the feels. And by the end, he looks to be almost in tears, hiding his face from the others. Dean stabbed himself in the heart.

And I wondered whether this was actually the scene Jensen Ackles was talking about, where he interpreted “Dean gruffly” with Dean in tears (also, they had like 3-4 episodes yet to film in the season when he made the comment, so timing fits). Because we don’t see him cry, but we see him want to cry. We see him very close to tears.

So I wonder whether this was it. Dean not cheapening the moment but allowing it to stab him right in the feels. That’s how much meeting these two men meant to him.

Recycling the story back to the beginning, viewing these scenes in contrast to each other, displays the journey – it shows how much they have grown over the years.

A few years ago, I was sitting outside in the midwest summer heat listening to the sound of cicadas screaming in the treetops. Cicadas spend years underground in an ugly nymph stage, waiting. When the conditions are right they come to the surface, molt into a beautiful jewel and mate but then die shortly after. Listening to them sing, I realized I didn’t want to live like that, waiting around for the perfect conditions to make my life happen. So I quit my job and moved to California to get exactly what I wanted. Last fall I was walking through the cloud forest of Peru and I heard the familiar song of cicadas, and I couldn’t help but smile.

a quiet night as any, Destiel, 1K

It’s a quiet night as any.


Sam thinks that he’s in some broad’s bed - or maybe just slumped over a bar passed out - and Dean can’t fault him that. He usually would be. Probably lingering by now, for how late it is. Post-sex hazy cuddles you can’t fault a guy for. Hopefully at least a ceiling fan rolling on with it’s hazy heat. A foreign bed, foreign town, foreign name on his tongue. And sleep. It’s where Dean should be.

He’s home. As much of one he’s got anyway. Not that sleazy motel a few miles back with half the lights fritzing out on it’s sign. Nah.


Windows rolled down, the muggy heat of the night pulsing around him, stars up in the sky shining bright as they ever do in the Midwest. Better than any busy town, anyway. There’s fields stretching to either side and it’s too low to really look like corn but dammit he thinks of it as corn anyway, because what else do they grow in the nowheres in between.

Jeans pushed to about his knees. Bunched up. Kinda uncomfortable. Skin sticks to the leather with sweat, dragging every time he shifts. Hand around his cock stroking, squeezing, trying to picture a pretty broad’s lips wrapped there.

He left a few behind.

There was a blond with empty eyes that tried to press against him, a brunette all spitfire and too many shots, a petite thing in a frayed jean skirt. He left them behind, one bar after another, in rapid succession. Moving on. Doesn’t know where he’s going. Never really does. But he’s still trying to think about their glossy lips around his dick when he’s alone in the back of his car in the ass end of nowhere and so.. so… so very hard…. trying not to think about other things.

Shirt bunched high on his waist, pulling tight and digging in to his skin. Knees knocking against the back seat and the front. Dragging his other hand down between the hot spread of his legs. Rough finger pads running round the rim of his ass.

Yeah. Pretty girls with glossy lips don’t really go there much do they.

Keep reading

Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin.

I know we don’t often feature things from the Rare Book collection but I thought it would be a good time to show a letter, hand written by Darwin, from our collection.

© The Field Museum, GN90989d and GN90990d

October 31, 1868 letter from (Charles) C. Darwin to B.D. Walsh of Rock Island Illinois. Darwin was interested in American periodical cicadas and states his opinion on 13 and 17 year cicadas. Front and back of letter.

Scan of original document.