Centipedes, ah centipedes, with more legs than blood veins,
Not like the millipedes – they’re rounder, you’re flatter.
Among the weeds are centipedes, articulated trains –
So how can you walk without causing a clatter ?
You gain two more segments each time that you shed –
That’s four legs per moulting, with more moults ahead.
So I don’t know, centipedes, quite how you succeed
When the insects can make do with six feet per tread.
Is it to lengthen your gut, or to strengthen
Your grasp on the earth, causing limbs to accrue ?
And if so, you sly lot, I’m wondering why not
Have billipedes, or trillipedes, or squillipedes too ?
Nat’ral selection, of course, has you firm in her grip –
It’s legs verses food, and at some point your fortunes must slip –
Though how many legs does it take for the balance to tip ?
Centipedes, ah plentipedes, with more legs than brains,
Though more brains than millipedes, if far fewer pins –
Bullet-headed batter-rams who plough through remains,
They’re moving slow by gearing low, to help sync their shins.
Silly slow millipedes, high in torque and low in speed –
Faster though than rotting leaves, upon which they feed.
You race them and beat them, you chase them and eat them –
But how many, Centipede, of legs do you ready need ?
Perhaps it’s your body that’s less planned than shoddy,
And just goes on growing till one day you pop.
You keep budding segments and each comes with legments,
All far too far back-there behind you to stop.
Centipedes, ah centipedes, you’re runners and dancers,
You’re bolted together, you’re slaloming chancers –
So rich in appendages, always – but so poor in answers.