The Change

yellow and black butterflies cocoon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The Change

Caterpillars metamorph, from juvenile to butterfly,
And maggots turn to ants and wasps and beetles, by and by,
And tadpoles can be newts and salamanders, toads and frogs
But when it comes to mammals, well,
There’s little change of which to tell,
For puppies only ever get to grow up into dogs.
But you know, that’s not quite true – we’re changing too,
Though the other way round:
See, larvae are more evolved than their parents –
Their bodies the new kids in town.
But we, you and me, start out as a fish
With proto-gills and a tail to swish
In a primordial sea of warm –
Then it’s time to move, to shed our skin,
And let our reptile-selves begin:
Engage, evolve, transform !
It’s time to metamorphosise,
We mongrel robots in disguise,
From instar into more-bizarre,
Our restless genes must shift and swarm
And take this blood-cold world by storm
By becoming the mammals, the furry mammals we are !
But don’t stop now, the urge ain’t gone –
I don’t know what’s next, but I feel it coming on…

 

 

Wiggle Wiggle

worms

 

Wiggle Wiggle

Some worms are roundworms and some worms are flat,
Some worms are skinny and some worms are fat,
Some worms are stripy and some worms are brown,
Some dress in velvet and some sport a crown,
Some feed on slurry and some feed on nuts,
Some live in gardens and some live in guts.

Some worms are serpents and some worms are bugs,
Some worms are dragons and some worms are slugs,
Some worms are speedy and some worms are slow,
Some worms are eyeless and some worms can glow.
Some on the surface and some underground,
Some worms are flatworms and some worms are round.

 

 

Squatters

plughole

 

Squatters

A year ago they built this flat,
And only I reside herein.
So how precisely is it that
In just one year, my welcome mat
Has ushered all these spiders in ?
I’m not allowed to keep a cat,
But pets a-plenty hide and spin.

Have they blown-in as eggs so soon,
Or spiderlings on silk baloons ?
Or hitched a ride upon a rat ?
(I really hope it isn’t that !)
Or did they creep up ev’ry stair
I’m on the seventh floor, you know !
I’m sure they’re here – their webs say so !

 

 

Jellyfishes

disco medusa
Discomedusae by Ernst Haeckel

Jellyfishes

jellyfish – OED first citation 1796
medusa (in this sense) – 1752
sea-nettle – 1601

What did we call the jellyfish
Before we called them that ?
Aristotle was the first
To note what they were at –
He called them akelephe
In his mighty omnibus –
While Pliny called them sea-lungs –
That is, pulmo marinus.

At some point, they were likened
To Medusa, with the snakes –
So when Linnaeus crowned them that,
He simply upped the stakes.
But what about in English,
From before the mighty Swede ?
Shakespeare never mentioned them,
Nor Caxton, Chaucer, Bede.

I guess those Middle Ages folk
Just neither knew, nor cared –
Though fishermen, at lease, you’d think,
Would need to be prepared.
Sea nettle, I suppose
Could make the strongest claims,
But hands that felt the stings were not
The hands that wrote down names.

Yet surely they are tailor-made
To populate in Hell ?
It seems their nightmares missed a trick,
When jellies did not gel.
They kinda look like floating heads,
(Though clearly going bald).
Much like Cthulhu’s nameless ones,
Who knows what they were called ?

Life in the Colonies

tentacle
Detail of tentacle of Physalia microscoped by Rob Growler.  Each of those finger-like projections is considered to be a separate creature.

 

Life in the Colonies

What’s the plural of man o’ war ?
‘Men’, or ‘wars’, or stays the same ?
(And why are you so Portuguese ?)
All told, a silly name.

But scientists insist
That you’re already plurals, each.
That what we see are vibrant cities
Washed up on the beach.

See, ev’ry egg, once fertilised,
Divides in two, and two again,
Until a little larva, sized
No larger than a grain.

You then begin your budding,
Popping clones that stay attached,
For these cannot survive alone
Once hatched.

Genetic’ly identical,
But not such dead-on ringers,
Specialising as they do,
As feeders, breeders, or as stingers,

Sharing nutrients and nerves,
And even gender too, we note.
And one (and only one) will swell
Into a gas-filled float.

But are you really colonies ?
So should we view your ev’ry clone
As sep’rate creatures ?  Even though
That can’t survive to swim alone ?

They may be multi-cellular,
But each one sounds a lot like cells
Dividing to diversify –
So why deny the parallels ?

For I began the same as you –
A ball of cells, a swarm of germs
Who meld and build a greater whole,
And so do flies and mice and worms.

So as for what we call you,
Just what kind of things you are ?
‘Men’ or ‘wars’, it matters not –
Let’s call you singular.

 

 

Sonnet of the Portuguese

man-o'-war

 

Sonnet of the Portuguese

They’re coming !  Raise the alarm on the dockside !
They’re swarming, and pushing us out of the sea !
Their billowing sails, from Pembroke to Leigh,
Are storming our beaches, invading our sands !
Their cargo is toxic, their ballast monoxide –
These by-the-wind sailors, these rafts of medusa.
Mohican’d above, while their dreadlocks hang looser –
All laces and ruffles, and hooks ’stead of hands !
On the hottest of days, when the skies are clear blue,
And the southerlies breeze off the sea to the shore,
This deadly armada with venomous crew
Are planting their colonies right at our door…
These silent bluejackets are coming for you –
These unthinking killers, these seamen o’ war.

 

 

Thunderbug

bugs

 

Thunderbug

Stink bugs, red bugs
Pond skaters, bed bugs,
Backswimmers, blue bugs:
Reckon you’re the true bugs ?
What about the caterpillars ?
What about the slugs ?
What about the woodlice,
And the dust mites in our rugs ?
What about the centipedes ?
What about the lugs ?
What about the spiders
That come crawling up our plugs ?
What about bacteria ?
Who sets the criteria ?
What about the itches,
And the robots and the glitches ?
Tell me, heteroptera,
Just why are you the only bugs ?
Just why must this old word refer
To nothing but your sucking mugs ?
Well, don’t start getting smug
In your taxonomic snug –
You buggers think you have the clout,
But other bugs are bugging-out.
How come you can appropriate
A catchall word that used to state
For any old invertebrate ?
I ask and ask, but all I get are shrugs.
Your copyright’s a crying shame
When yours is not the only claim,
So find another common name,
And let all buggy bugging bugs be bugs.