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.
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 !
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 ?
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.
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.
Look ! Spiders ev’rywhere !
Scuttling over ceilings,
Hanging from their danglings,
Watching from the walls.
Webbing here, webbing there,
Going ’bout their dealings,
Or rolled up into balls.
Let them be, don’t let them scare.
Spiders, spiders ev’rywhere !