Moult Litter

Spider & Moulted Exoskeletons photographed by Thierry Berrod


Moult Litter

In all of the places that dusters don’t get to,
On covings and pelmets, in cupboards and sheds –
With many a squeam and a shudder, I bet you,
We know what we’ll find on the dust-heavy threads –
The graveyards of spiders, with hook-leggèd carcasses,
Either their owners are dead, or they’re gone
And abandoned their earlier mobile fortresses,
Ditched by the web-side while they scamper on.

Tumbleweeds that tremble in our gasps,
As though they’re still alive –
With finger-legs that only clasp
The empty air that makes them jive,
But couldn’t cling to life, or cling to guts.
Or maybe shells of burry nuts,
Which lie in wait to hitch a ride,
With tiny eggs they plant inside
To spread their brood to distant nooks and huts.
They’re single-used, these chitin gowns –
Abandoned and outgrown,
Have they no life as hand-me downs,
Or overcoats of bone ?

I wonder, could a hermit-fly purloin one,
Use it as a neat disguise ?
It has, of course, too many legs, too many eyes.
But carpenter bees could join in,
To adapt the suit, adjust the fit,
And silkworms help to sew up any split.
Maybe for a little coin
An enterprising beetle may
Collect the lot, and set them on display.
Just the thing to look soigné
The best-dressed bugs and social sets
Are spider-clad, from palps to spinnerets.

Why does nothing eat these ?
No nutrients, presumably.
They cannot flee, they cannot rust,
They simply scatter through the endless desert drifts of dust.
And so the dunes accrete these,
Until they’re swallowed down,
To sink and drown, or fossilise –
The only clue that they were empty are the missing eyes.



See, Elegance !

Caenorhabditis Elegans by Taylorcustom (I have been unable to discover the actual artist)

See, Elegance !

All the world is nemotodes
By dozens by each cubic inch –
The soil is crammed to overload,
The oceans feel the pinch –
These tiny, tiny vermiforms
In crevice, desert, gut and tree
Together make such mighty swarms
More massive than humanity.
From ocean trench to distant beach
To icecap, there they burst –
Wherever we have strived to reach,
The threadworms got there first.
Whatever we may think about them,
Still these parasites abound –
We cannot live without them,
For the roundworms make the world go round.

Butyrumusca getii

Butyrumusca getii

I saw a lepidopter’s case,
A peon to the butterfly.
With filigree of carapace
From abdomen to compound eye.
The duffer who possessed these critters
Spoke at loving length of flitters

I wondered how this gent possessed
Their tiny feet and stain-glass wings,
For clearly one who so obsessed
Could never harm so precious things –
Therefore, it must surely follow,
Ev’ry bodyshell was hollow.

These weren’t spent, discarded parts –
For butterflies can never shed –
They never get a dozen starts,
And only gain their wings to spread
Upon their change to adulthood –
They change for once and change for good.

Maybe then they’re not rejected,
Rather they are shiny new –
Here displayed to be selected
By the crawling grubs who queue –
So they choose their new quintessence
As they quit their adolescence.

Some are brighter, some are duller,
Some are nippy, some enlarged –
Pick a model, pick a colour,
Carbon-framed and sugar-charged.
Are you a grounded caterpillar ?
You should check these stats – they’re killer !


gray and brown insect on green leaf
Photo by Egor Kamelev on



A single clap, a sudden slap,
A thud against a desk,
A backhand swat, a black-red blot,
A mid-air Arabesque.
Someone let the flies in,
Let the flies invade our day,
And now we’re exercising
An impromptu cabaret.
So jump up to that buzzing sound,
And waltz your tiny partners round –
Until we run these flies to ground,
This dance will play and play.



The accent is just intended to show that the middle syllable is the one that should be stressed.



Upward Spiral

brown snail on grey wall


Upward Spiral

A snail upon the concrete, half way high,
Just scaling up the slabs to the broken-bottle prism
That shards into the crown that lacerates the sky –
It’s breaking up the straight lines, a bauble on the brutalism.



This snail is still there, weeks later, its shell becoming its coffin.  I wonder if it were poisoned by the concrete ?



Summer Guest

an oak bush-cricket, i think


Summer Guest

A miniature cricket, or maybe a ’hopper,
Has found its way into my flat.
I thought that the spiders would send it a-cropper,
But they’re having nothing of that !
It could be a locust, but that would be holier –
Easy to spot though – bright green on magnolia !

I feared it was munching my windowsill cactus,
But I see no evidence there.
I guess the poor thing must be fasting in practice –
My ceiling-top cupboards are bare !
It doesn’t have wings, so it’s still just a young –
It’s legs are un-hopped, and its song is unsung.



Telling the Bees

honeycomb close up detail honey bee
Photo by Pixabay on


Telling the Bees

The day that Grandpa died, that very day,
My father took my hand and led the way
On up the garden, round behind the potting shed,
And showed me how to tell the bees that he was dead:
He gently rapped the back-door key
Against the frame, and spoke the name,
Then wordless handed it to me
That I should do the same.
I guess it worked – this informed hive, now his,
Survived intact, as was, as is –
Though surely, bees think not of grief
When Father was, to them, a honey-thief.

The day that Father died, it fell to me
To take my son and take my key
And pass on the traditions of the hive –
To tell the bees he was no more alive.
But as I rapped upon their frame,
My puzzled boy a little scared,
I found I could not speak his name
To bees who neither knew nor cared.
And so, I placed a hand upon my lad
And told him how we honour Dad –
It’s not through what the past believes,
But like he taught: by being honey-thieves.

Song of the Straight-Wings



Song of the Straight-Wings

All along the branches,
And down amongst the bines
We hear the insects chattering
The gossip of the vines:
Seems someone grassed the hoppers up,
And sprung a Springtime storm –
They even cussed the locusts low
To watch the rumours swarm.
The wetas whet their wilting wit,
And rub their wings in glee –
This really isn’t kosher,
The Jerusalems agree.
But somewhere in the undergrowth,
Striations getting shushed –
It simply isn’t cricket
For a cricket to be bushed.
Lurking there in plain sight
Are the lives the cryptids hid –
You won’t believe the racket
When you hear what Katy did !







They started coming over here a decade back or so,
A few at first, and hardly noticed, where the good winds blow.
Of course, the many coats they wear have helped, despite their glitzy show.

At first, we thought how marvellous to find such guests as these –
A touch of the exotic in the roses and the peas,
And something to replace the sorry absence of the friendly bees.

But now we hear they’re taking jobs from seven-spotted lads,
Or that they breed too many kids compared to local dads,
And even claims of bullying, from roaming gangs to bolshy cads !

And sheltering through Winter in a corner, in the gloom,
We find them huddled with their kind, at twenty to a room –
A lack of integration with the natives, is what we assume.

They offer services for thrips, which two-spots can’t compete in –
The gardeners are overjoyed, the unions are beaten.
And does it really even matter, if the aphids all get eaten ?

The market does its work, with consequences untoward –
They gobble up their rivals to monopolise the board –
They’re less a friendly immigrant, and more a raging mongrel horde !

Yet maybe we’re reacting to a non-existent wrong –
Let’s leave the species to it, and they might just get along,
With more than plenty greenfly shared among this multi-cultured throng.

But let’s not read too much comparing ladybird and man,
For beetles run on instinct, with no higher thought or plan.
They cannot make a compromise – but we are humans, and we can.



Lost Couplets from The Auguries of Innocence

William Blake by Thomas Phillips


Lost Couplets from The Auguries of Innocence

A louse plucked from a child’s hair
Shall cause this world to grow less fair.

A guinea worm dug from an eye
Shall leave behind a greater stye.

A flea disturbed before she dines
Is desecration of the shrines.

For veins of blood washed free of flukes
Shall topple kings and pillage dukes.

Each tapeworm flushed from out the gut
Shall see our stenchful filth in glut.

And tortures wait in Hell for he
Who cures amoebic dysent’ry.