This weekend, students from Matt Palmer’s Herpetology class traveled to the New Jersey Pine Barrens on an overnight trip to observe amphibians and reptiles in their natural habitats. Senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets and fellow classmates Connor Moore and Adriana Fratz documented the trip in haikus. Read on for verse just like Bashō intended.

driving ‘round New Jers
it’s a party in the back
(of the van I mean)

house of horrors. snakes
touching me touching you. spend
time uncomfortable

snake sticks out her tongue
chemosensors searching out
I reciprocate

plants are everywhere
despite the fiery burn
not barren at all

tiny turtle squirms
against cold evolution
and Matt Palmer’s hands

Matt, vertical man
how does he fit in a tent
anglo saxon size?

yes I held the snake
growth happens in tiny steps:

Scincidae surprise
what are you doing lizard?
oh, just a five-lined

a bog is a bog
but not the cranberry type
a fake bog that is

basking in the sun;
I am human Sceloporus,
then running to snacks

waiting for M.P. to sing
does he take requests?

scraping the bottom,
eating like a tadpole does.
I love pudding cake

red backs hide, they recede
like april rains come may first!
herp is in my heart

we put on waders
ballroom dance in the waders
it’s herp time, baby!

Pseudotriton time
spotted body tiny legs
paparazzi swarm

toilet in the woods
peepers call all around me
a private world

Betsy where’d you go?
dark, alone, horror movie-to-be.
oh, she is right there

van dives into ditch
accelerates up and out
Pedro is our king

wading through the ponds
frogs turtles and water snakes
found so many friends

lights in the darkness
reflections on the water
dancing with the trees

tiniest tree frog
caught behind us in a tree
sticky bright hind limbs

my feet smell so bad
from traipsing around the marsh
feeling so damn free

four strong in a tent
warmed through our proximity
ready for sleeping

don’t step on Connor
step into wind-burnished boots
cross the path to piss

sunlight through the tent
sleeping bag damp from the dew
birds sing everywhere

salamander babe
struggling on four tiny legs
found beneath a rock

calm the black-scaled friend
Kayla the snake whisperer
hold him soft, gently

tree trunk across rocks
one herper sits on each end
now it’s a see-saw

when feeling hungry
eat some beech leaves as a snack
now my stomach hurts

lunchtime in the grass
communal peanut butter
human basking time

Wawa is the best
free air, gas, and hoagie fest
and frog ponds out back

walked the whole boardwalk
saw one tiny water snake
are the herps napping?

spotted turtle pokes
his head out of the water
swims to say hello

turtles in the sun
two snakes twined up together
I’d join their nap time

herp friends via Betsy; for more info on these friends check out Betsy’s Twitter