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.
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.
Fiddlers do it on the bias, Swaggering about the shore – They lope-along lopsided With one pincer too-provided-for. An asymmetric sexual signal – Over-big, a pumped-up rig, To wave it peek-a-boo. I wonder if they topple when they do ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.