I don’t know the alkanet Is only served by bumblebees, But ev’ry time I see a patch, Then bumbles are their only catch. Their flowers are so dainty, yet, The smaller sort don’t visit these – Perhaps their pollen is too heavy For the lighter bees to ferry ? The plants spring up in shady wet, Against the walls, beneath the trees – Perhaps this also says the best Where bumbles like to build their nest ? I hear such bugs are under threat But here they gather as they please – Where beefy bees are bumbling by, To drink the deep blue blossoms dry.
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 ?
Tell me, rectilinear thing, If you’re a moth then where’s your wing ? When not in ragged, fraying flight It’s held-out straight and rolled-up tight. You’re crucified in upper case, And dressed in brightest white and beige – No camouflage for any place, Except, perhaps, the printed page.
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 – claws, 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.
Deep in the palace, centre of her nest, The bloated Queen holds court. She pops out underlings, spreading her essence Who scuttle-out backwards from her regal presence. Safely cocooned from the drones and the rest, And only meeting with the better sort – And she fills-up her hive with honeypots of gold, While expendable subjects shiver in the cold.
A louse is a louse is a louse, Close enough, In German, Norwegian and Dutch, While Romancers keeps it in-house, Close enough, From the Latin pedis, and such, While Slavs use a different nous, Close enough, With vusi – it doesn’t change much. So a louse is a louse, from West to East, And ev’rywhere the same. But a woodlouse, that’s a diff’rent beast – The bug with a thousand names… Roly-poly, cheesey wig, The sow bug, pill bug, backyard blimp – And dandy postman, parson’s pig, Or slater, cafner, carpet shrimp. And other tongues have a similar feast – Or so the pundits claim… But an insect louse ? That’s just a louse – They’re itchy, but they’re tame.
I have touched on woodlice before, and also eyelash lice. Their diversity of names reminds me somewhat of butterflies. Incidentally, though both ‘wood’ and ‘louse’ are present in Anglo-Saxon, they don’t seem to have been put together until 1611.
A tick is a bug that sucks up meaning, A tiny check-mark on the skin That no amount of language-cleaning Will ever dislodge now it’s sunk its snout in. A facial tic on our pristine tongue Of too many meanings from a single noun – Oh for a language that’s regular and young Before the parasites invaded the town. We use words on tick, to be paid for later, Like the stuffing in a tick-case that is already frayed, Or the ticks on a rule till the namesakes are greater And we’ve spewed-out enough for a tickertape parade. It ticks us off that such gaudy schlocks lurk, But they’ve plagued us forever, siphoning their fraction – Older than moments, older than clockwork, The tick is as ancient as Anglo-Saxon.
‘Tick’ is also a Middle English word for goat (whose latter name is even older), and though thoroughly out-of-use can still be found in placenames such as Tickenhurst.
Incidentally, what does a twitcher call the first whinchat of the year ? A tick tick.
The Roman snail was bred for the eating, Bred by the Romans on gastropod farms – Bred to be fatter and bred to be sweeter, Bred for behaviour and oozing with charms ! Red shells and blue shells, thoroughly adaptable, With endless potential curled-up inside – Many shapes of eye-stalk, fully retractable, And you should see how speedily these beauties can glide !
“You join us at the Coliseum, bursting to capacity, For the Trophy Mille Denarii – ave, sports fans, and well met – And they’re off ! Down the first straight, led by Number Three, While Number Thirteen stalls, as he retracts into his helmet. Hard into the corner at a tenth-a-mile an hour, And slamming on the brakes – and out goes Number Ten ! Spinning in slow motion as she gives it too much power, And slams into the backside of her team-mate, yet agen ! And the Formula Unum poll position passes on to Seventeen – While her rival Number Twenty-Two is sliding for the pits, To lubricate his tired foot, while they give his conch a sheen, With a quick refuel of lettuce, and he’s back into the blitz ! Now shell-to-shell on the final lap come slithering the leaders, Stretching their antennas out to take the chequered flag. But competition never ends for Golden Helix breeders, When looking for an offspring with a slightly better drag.”