I Leave It Up To You

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I Leave It Up To You

My end was written into my very beginning,
Into my terminal genes –
My past and future are always inferred,
Before I was born, my death was assured.
With fate or biology, there is no winning,
We’re entropy machines –
But the road we take is mine and yours,
To pass the time between the wars.

Brackish Streams

detail from Fallen Angel by Alexandre Cabanel

Brackish Streams

I’ve always been a weeper in the wind –
It only takes the slightest breeze
To turn-on my capillaries,
As drip by drip, I am chagrined,
And have to whip my hankie out
To stem each overactive spout.

I don’t know why
The weather makes me cry,
Especially the cold.
An eye-jerk sense,
Or anti-drought defence
That will not be controlled.

I’ve always been too salty in the frost –
All the Winter, all those leaks,
To run and freeze upon my cheeks.
So tear by tear, my poise is lost,
Into a sobbing, briny wreck
Who cannot keep his ducts in check.

I don’t know why
My gaze is never dry,
Until my eyeballs rust.
They even seep
While closed and fast asleep,
Then desiccate to dust.

Vermification

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Vermification

Things keep turning into worms, it would seem,
And not just invertebrates
Exhibiting a certain trait
For straightness in the beam
And legless in the gait.

Things keep sausage-ing to worms, we observe –
The eel and caecilian
Are bound by their criterion
To maximise the curve,
Like the tongue of the chameleon.

Things keep slithering to worms, to and fro –
As through the soil they swim,
The burrowers who drop a limb.
The slowworm may be slow,
But he’s wonderfully slim.

Things keep developing newer way to squirm –
From the lowly and unsung
To the feared and cursed who creep among –
For snakes are just a worm
With a backbone and a tongue.

Incarcination

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Incarcination

Things just won’t stop turning into crabs,
From claw to carapace –
They look as if they’re engineered in labs
Or zapped from outer space.
Except…the fishes show no cancric tug,
Nor do the worms or squids –
It seems it’s just crustaceans have the bug
To spawn such crabby kids.
Not counting woodlice, shrimps, or barnacles,
Nor the copepods –
But still, a fair few join the carnival,
In their squat new bods.
And as for them, the more derived they get,
The more the format grabs –
Converging on a winning set,
And walking sideways into crabs.

This meme relies on a fairly liberal definition of ‘crab’ – it seems to come down to three things – caws, an oval fused carapace, and an absent abdomen/tail (it’s actually tucked underneath). So hermit-crabs, for instance, certainly have the claws, but lack the other two (though when in a shell, they give the impression of them).

So, yes it happens, to the extent that the squat-lobster seems to be half-way through the process. But it’s also helped along by our wishful-thinking. Or, as I put is recently, plants won’t stop turning into trees.

Tellingly, other aquatic arthropods like dragonfly larvas and water spiders show no inclination to crab-up.

Why Are Trees Trees ?

Baby Maple by hedera.baltica

Why Are Trees Trees ?

The history of trees is that
The trees are not a clade –
They spring-up from the strangest places,
Evolution-made.
So beech and birch are boring,
All their family are so wooden,
But others have the oddest kin
And ev’ry one’s a good ’un.
They’ve found the same solution
Independently, you know –
When stretching for the sunlight, well,
There’s just one way to go.

So apple trees are strawberries
That built a sturdy trunk,
Yucca palms are bluebells
If a bluebell were a hunk.
Acacia trees are runner beans
That bolted in their teens,
While rubber trees are spurges
That have stretched beyond their means.
There’s only so much energy,
And trees don’t like to share –
They’re hungrier when taller,
But their mouths are ev’rywhere !

So linden limes are cottons
That have fluffed-up in the streets,
And oranges are really rue
Whose bitterness turned sweet.
Finest teak is peppermint,
That’s why it smells so nice –
And eucalyptus is a clove
That added too much spice.
The forest is a battleground,
And ev’ry plant must fight –
So trees is what you always get,
If what you get is height.

I’m not very good at identifying plants on sight, but I can thoroughly recommend the app PlantNet.

I’m also not very good at identifying crabs, which is hardly surprising.

Pinhole Camera

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Pinhole Camera

Hold this poem at arm’s length,
And peer right through its O’s.
Even the ones in lower case
Contain an awful lot of space –
But just how large is small , do you suppose ?
Good try, but a little under-strength –
Your guess is a tenth of a tenth of a tenth.

Within that ringlet, give or take,
Between the billion nitrogens,
Are photons – streaming on a breeze
From fifty thousand galaxies,
Upon a thoughtful mind or friendly lens –
As through the page, within its wake,
The universe is on the make.

Mus laboritorium

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Mus laboritorium

We should put up statues
To the mice that we have doctored,
That we’ve prodded in the genome,
And remodelled in the womb.
We should hail as heroes
All these spidermen of rodents
With their mutant-managed powers
That we twist and splice and groom.

Quick-grown maturity,
Inbred for purity,
With white fur unblemished,
While their cultured cells outlive them.
Red-eyed and pink-eared,
Stripped-down and re-geared,
Free of fleas and all disease
(Except the ones we give them).

I try not to think of how much pain
We put them through –
It’s what we have to do
To avoid the pain ourselves, I guess.
They’ve brought us so much gain,
But we’re too ashamed to speak it –
The sterile dirty little secret of our great success.

We should sing a ballad
To the mice who helped us conquer
Tuberculosis, polio,
Leukaemia and measles.
Or give a quiet thank-you
When a treatment proves effective –
They keep us safe from swine-flu,
So we keep them safe from weasels.

Dozens, hundreds, millions,
A well-groomed swarm resilient –
And when they die, attended by
A white-frockcoated mourner.
These un-cavy guinea-pigs,
These wheel-running whirligigs,
These supermodel-organisms
Squeaking in the corner.

I try not to think how many mice
Have died for me,
Have lived a life of agony
Because they are expendable, I guess.
They are the devil’s price
For our seeming immortality –
Our flexible morality, that drives us to progress.

Photocells

Photocells

The stars only show up
When we open up our eyes,
With our pupils set on f-2
To maximise the skies.
With focus to infinity
To catch the light-years light
And fast-films for retinas
To turn the blackness bright.
Our long-exposure eyelids
Are timed to lift their veil –
Thirty seconds is enough,
Or else the stars will trail.
And then our nerves develop it
With not a blur nor wrinkle –
It’s just a little grainy
As the pinpoints gently twinkle.

Gotcha !

Tag You’re It – Squid Game by Sparkumi

Gotcha !

Tag, goes the virus,
And suddenly, I’m it,
Chasing, and panting,
And laughing, and transmit.
No rules for no-backsies,
It’s free-for-all, all day
No sitting this one out,
We’re all of us in play.
They say this game is older
Than ancient Babylon.
Now I’ve given you my secret –
Pass it on.