black spider
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com



I cannot tell you why I should be so afraid,
Except I am.
Perhaps it’s evolution keeping me alive
That makes me scram.
But I have always hated spiders, big and small –
Oh god, so small !
They’re lurking in this room, right now –
They lurk, until they crawl…

But sooner yet than later,
Then the peace between us must be made –
For I don’t want to be a hater,
When, oh please !, I hate to be afraid…

And with tarantulas – so big !- we get to see
Just how they’re built –
Their legs, their palps, their spinnerets,
Their onyx eyes and downy quilt…
Yet small ones have these too, too small to see –
But oh, they’ve got the lot,
Upon a strange and creeping body –
Never let this be forgot !

But I am more than this, and greater –
I shall love them, I shall not be swayed.
For I don’t want to be a hater,
I don’t want to spend my life afraid.



Z. apocalypsus

E Coli
Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times, microscoped by Eric Erbe, colourised by Christopher Pooley


Z. apocalypsus

Squirming and writhing in unthinking hordes
That cannot be dented with bullets or swords;
They’ll find us and kill us and shred our remains,
They’re after our bodies and after our brains.
They’ll mess with our minds worse than Dali or Escher,
Our stomachs will turn and our bowels feel the pressure,
I sense in my gut that they’re here in the flesh –
Oh my…
Escherichia coli !


I feel a little bit guilty about the last line, as apparently the stresses should fall on the RIC and the CO, whereas I would prefer them to fall on the I and the LI (that is, the next sallybles along).  But honestly, whoever actually ever says the name in full anyway ?  So I reckon my stresses are every bit as valid.

E. coli, incidentally, is a natural part of our gut bacteria without which we would probably be dead.  That is, until it turns bad…





turned on white and black torchiere lamp
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com



I love the way your halves combine.
I love the way you place each lung
With careless grace and good design
On either side your centre line,
And equidistant from your spine.
I love the way your ribs are strung.

I love the way your shoulders fit,
I love the way your arms construe.
I love the way your kidneys sit,
So each, the other mirrors it
To keep the couple quite legit.
I love the way your hips are two.

I love the way you wear your legs,
So nicely paired, and just enough:
For with a third, the question begs
Of where upon your frame it pegs.
I love the way you keep to regs.
I love the way you’re up to snuff.

I love your face with eye and eye,
I love the way they both are blue.
I love the way they flit and fly
In unison, to watch me pry
Upon thy tygrish symmet-try.
I love the way you’re balanced-through.


The penultimate line is inspired by how I always read the fourth line of a certain poem of William Blake’s.



Childless Genes

Genetic Modification


Childless Genes

I am the product of four-billion years-worth
Of winners and breeders, and fighters and choosers.
But now they shall wither, extinguished forever –
For billions they flourished, yet still wound up losers.
But hold on, my genes are my sister’s, my brother’s –
They’ll swim through the side streams, these spawny succeeders.
For they are the product of four billion years-worth
Of fighters and choosers, and winners and breeders.



Unwise in the Ys



Unwise in the Ys

We start the wars, we fight the wars,
We win them and we lose them;
We argue out the truces and the peace.
We write the laws, we break the laws,
We honour and abuse them;
And either way, our meddling shall increase.
For we are Men, alas, we’re Men,
We’re being masculine again:
We’ve got the whiskers, got the beer –
We’re patriarchitypes, my dear.
For we are He, alas, Himself;
We’ve got the jobs, we’ve got the wealth.
We must be heard !  We shall be heard !
We started with the final word.

At least, that’s how it’s always told
By critic and historian:
From hunter-gather days of old
To present times – the myth is sold
That ev’ry man is brute and bold,
And endlessly Victorian.
But we are more than legacy,
We’ve learned to share and redefine.
The mercy that you beg of me
Is yours these days as much as mine.
For we are us, thank god, ourselves,
We’ve equal now, not trolls and elves –
But that’s enough from me today,
I’d rather hear what you might say.



The Voyage of the Novum Organum

frontispiece from Novum Organum Scientiarum by Francis Bacon, art by anon


The Voyage of the Novum Organum

’Twas in the summer of ’20
When our galleon set sale.
Now gather ye, and plenty,
As I lay the fearless tale:
We soon approached the pillars bold
That Hercules himself, we’re told,
Had planted, so’s to say “Behold !
Behold these sights, and quail !
Here lies the End of the Earth, my friends,
And who knows what may lie beyond ?
It’s time to find what you’re worth, my friends,
If dareꞌst ye leave your pond.
Will you view my gates as a warning ?
Then head for home on the turning tide.
Or will you view my gates as a dawning ?
Then pass on through to the other side !”

Who knows if God shall forsake us ?
Who knows where the currents take us ?
Over the seas on our questing quest:
With our fortunes pressed for the holy grail,
As on and on we sail.

So wise old Captain Bacon
Gave the word to pass on through.
We prayed he weren’t mistaken
And a-gambling with his crew.
We sailed betwixt those ancient piers,
And set a course for new frontiers.
Once Argonauts, now pioneers !
’Twas time to earn our due.
“There lies the Start of the Earth, my friends,
When we find out what lies ahead !
It’s time to give rebirth, my friends,
It’s time to raise the dead !”

We knew great riches would await us,
All our maps were full of exes !
We dug up booty with apparatus,
And unearthed keys to fresh complexes.

Follow the clues, be smart and plucky;
Here be dragons, if we’re lucky !
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The better we guessed, the more we unveiled,
As on and on we sailed.

We plumbed that deep wide ocean
So’s to chart her reefs and bars
The first we found was motion –
It was written in the stars !
Then spied we microscopic forms –
A hidden world of tiny swarms.
We shuddered, but we rode such storms,
And better for the scars.
There lies so much joy on this Earth, my friends –
Let’s find out what we share her with !
There’s nowhere upon her in dearth, my friends –
She’s always more to give !
We sailed upon her seas of numbers,
Fathomed her amounts amounting:
Formulas and patterns slumbered –
Ev’rything, we learned, was counting.

And the point where the limit of our learning meets,
There’s always a fair wind filling our sheets.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we professed, the more we regaled,
As on and on we sailed.

The further out our striving,
So the better stocked our stores.
And always we’re arriving
Onto ever-stranger shores.
And on those lands we took our drills
And tapped the streams and dug the hills
And set down bridges, rails and mills,
And just and noble laws.
We learned how the whole of the Earth, my friends,
Is built from the same few blocks, not more !
We learned how the life round her girth, my friends,
Is built from life before !
We sailed away to explore and learn,
And still there is so much more to find !
We know we can never again return
To that ancient world that we left behind.

We’ll never be bored and we’ll never be done;
We’ll never arrive at the setting sun.
Over the seas on our questing quest:
The more we progress, the higher we scale,
As on and on we sail.