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,
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.

Pinhole Camera

Photo by Filipe Delgado on Pexels.com

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.



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.

Thumbs Are Fingers Too !

Thumbs Are Fingers Too !

Somewhen early in the tetrapods,
The limbs all ended in fives.
They weren’t placed there by any gods,
But by whatever survives.
And even then, the fifth was smaller,
With one joint fewer to flex –
So even when we stood-up taller,
The same stubby thumb projects.

Somewhen early in the primate time,
We took to trees when stressed,
And found our thumbs could help us climb
If they opposed the rest.
And so they carried, worked, and threw,
With a thumbs-up and okay,
When the runt of the fin with knuckles-two
Hitched a ride on its DNA.

Somewhen, late in far far future,
We may make do with fewer –
Our pinkie, perhaps, a vestigial moocher,
No longer much of a doer.
Just ask the horses, running on one finger,
The others written-out of their glands –
Best to keep using ’em, that the way they’ll linger,
For genes have little use for idle hands.

A Troubled Brow

     A Troubled Brow

The lurgy has broken my sleeping –
Sweated, disrupted, and long.
With headaches and backaches from keeping
A posture my joints say is wrong.
Repeating the same-old distresses
Again and again, like a glitch in the stream –
A nightmare that never progresses,
A scratch in the grooves of a dream.
But the night will pass,
And with it this slough –
It cannot last,
I just have to live it for now.
What once was a refuge is fevered and seeping,
Brought on by this succubus lodged in my chest –
The lurgy has broken my sleeping,
And left me in need of a rest.

It’s all Greek to me

It’s all Greek to me

Ev’ryone thinks of Alpha,
Alpha waves and alpha dogs –
Beta has its beta blockers,
Beta tests and beta logs –
Gamma gives us gamma rays,
And tennis gives us Gamma strings –
And Delta – so much Delta !
With its rivers and its wings
But no-one thinks of Omicron,
As obscure as you get,
What excitement could there be
In the bowels of the alphabet…?

My Bang’s Bigger Than Yours

My Bang’s Bigger Than Yours

Astronomers love hydrogen,
And hydrogen alone –
The primal, elemental gas,
That lights up the unknown.
They’re not so keen on helium,
But tolerate it still –
But hydrogen’s their number one,
They just can’t get their fill !

Astronomers hate lithium,
As dense and overweight,
And ev’rything beyond it is
Too scarce to even rate.
They label them as ‘metals’,
As a grey and seething mass –
Yes, even carbon, even sulphur,
Even chlorine gas.

Astronomers know metaloids
Have properties each shares,
But magnets and electron soups
Are no concern of theirs,
And dabbling in impurities
Requires them to atone –
For ‘stronomers love hydrogen,
And hydrogen alone.


A selection from Pluto’s Jewelry


Her ring finger bore a feldspar,
And her next a polished flint,
Her index bore the starry glint
Of mica or calcite – whichever is bright.
Her other hand was nothing but quartz –
Citrine, rose and amethyst.
While silicon zircons circled her wrist.
She said she liked them because they were like her,
Mirroring their wearer,
Displaying her worth –
Common, yet polished into something rarer,
As cheap as dirt, yet the salt of the Earth.

A zircon is not the same as a cubic zirconium – the latter is zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), whereas the indestructible mineral is zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4).