Shall I compare you to an octopus?
Your tentacles are so spectacular,
And though I've rarely seen you drive a car,
Not often either do you catch a bus.
You dart about and never make a fuss,
This lack of transport modes your fun can’t mar,
To your free motion there appears no bar,
Therefore, you never have good cause to cuss.
And so, dear twisting squid you dive and duck,
Within abyssal depths deprived of light,
A queen, you pirouette with eight arms strong,
Whose graceful motions are much more than luck;
When frightened, teuthic jet-squirts give you flight,
Then in a surge of ink-black, you are gone!
[South Wales Evening Post: 06/10/18 as PM]
“Science Still Can’t Explain Why These Tarantulas Are Blue” (*)
Months ago whilst young niece minding, wet and windy Wednesday winding
Paths of stimulation into Swansea’s own Plantasia fair:
There I stroked a spider’s belly, poked a stoat, got scared to jelly
When one heart-faced barn-owl smelly, soared o’erhead and fouled our hair;
Then began distracted musings, half a mantra, maybe prayer...
Creeping nigh dread creatures’ lair!
Little did I know that morning, I’d be with arachnids fooling:
Hairy, spineless, poison-tooling; Family: Theraphosidae –
Three inch bod and six inch legspan, prosomal front-part, hinged to abdomen,
At waist-like pedicle in their body plan. Opisthosoma’s abdomen dry;
Prosoma’s cephalothorax spry; after moulting, soft-bodied they lie:
Whole exuvium’s shed – but still they just don’t die!
Eight legs have coxa, then trochanter, femur, followed by patella,
Tibia, tarsus, and pretarsus; two or three retracting claws;
Legs first and third move on the one side; then on the other, two and four glide:
Contracting muscles cause a swift stride; pumps haemolyphic, leg-stretch force,
In scuttling prowl for prey – or intercourse! And more – burred scopula crown each paw,
Gripping even sloping, glass-smooth floors.
Book-lungs two-paired hide folded tissue; slender heart round sini pressures
Cell-less haemocyanin, cupric, with its neurogenic pulse;
Two spinnerets (or four) squirt silk-threads; hissed stridulation’s first line of defence;
Striking attackers through with chill dread, obviating need for fanged impulse;
Barbed itchy hairs cause urtication, when rubbed or kicked off back leg stations,
Vile wasp or caterpillar predators to repulse.
Those spiny setae feel vibrations, and sniff sweet pheromone secretions;
Eight poor eyes help them ambush insects, even arthropods scurrying in plant debris raw;
Then venom through chelicerae rushes, masticating fang-force gnashes,
Whilst pedipalp pair grips, rends, crushes – leaving shredded food-pulp dripping gore;
Digestive enzymes slathering pour – stomach muscles depressurize craw:
Liquefied prey’s then sucked up through a straw!
Enticing signals lull a female, sperm-glands secrete a string of semen;
Epiandrous fusillae build silk mat to catch the dripping gunk;
Terminal pedipalp absorbs the offering, to lady’s spermathecae proffering,
She awaits male’s lunges, hovering: injection suffering from the horny hunk:
Job thoroughly done, the frightened geezer, away from hungry momma does swift bunk:
Lothario wandering, brazen, in lonely post-shag funk.
Aggressive mater guards eggs, brooding; most small blokes die soon after maturing,
Are they blessed to end up human show-things,
in far-from-tropical South-West-Walian zoo?
Where probed I, with finger wiggling, head with bird-poo guano glistening,
(Dear niece sleep-lulled by stoat-fact-listening);
musing on the lifestyle of this motley spider crew;
Perhaps he thought, o bucking beastie, my tender ticklings – for all I knew –
Were true sweet love-dance, of some needy spider comrade,
blue ... blue, blue, blue ... blue!
[(*) Drake, N (2015) National Geographic (27 November 2015): Science Still Can't Explain Why These Tarantulas Are Blue: The spiders’ brilliant colors are the work of a still-mysterious evolutionary force. URL: http://goo.gl/GnXaOc (Accessed 17 March 2016)]
"Scientists are asking for the public's help to track the spread of a greedy slug species threatening to eat its way through British gardens and crops. The Spanish slug was first reported in the UK in January by Dr Ian Bedford, head of entomology at the John Innes Centre, Norwich." (*)
Slugs, you apparently shell-less
Terrestrial gastropod molluscs!
What an extremely polyphyletic
Group you comprise;
Your hybrid speciation causes serious headaches
Which often brain-scramble
Why try to classify you into clades.
But now Arion vulgaris, the migrant Plague Slugs
From Spain (also A. lusitanicus),
Virulent and virile continental pests,
Evading border control,
Embedded in food and soil imports,
Sustain a nightmare invasion,
Slithering silently down British suburban trails.
These five-inch long orange vandals
Indulge in orgies of interbreeding,
Outcompeting native species,
Shedding hundreds of robust eggs a year:
The offspring appear all of a sudden,
Sporting intermediate genitalia,
And, perfect fit to our damp climate,
Repulse the endemics, ravaging their homes.
So the pure Anglo-Saxon gene-pool
Of the indigenes becomes corrupted;
Whilst the dire, dirty aggressors
Blight hardy perennials, and devour fruit;
The old incumbents are exiled
To sad ghettoes and extinguished,
The ecosystem's buggered,
The genie's well and truly out of its bottle.
The only predators are microscopic nematode worms,
And if balmy temperatures above twenty degrees-C but return,
Every six weeks you can try drenching your garden
With a watering-can filled with the fighters, in third-hour turns;
Or perhaps we should all plant fuchsias which the bastards abhor,
Although this will also hit our autochthonic mates;
Yet maybe like a forest fire the plague will burn itself out,
Nature reaching balance in a radical new equilibrium state;
But if these measures, together with hedgehogs, and night-walking ducks,
Prove insufficient to hoover up the conniving doers of crime:
Expect road-slicks of car-squashed slugs, whose brethren
Feast on the remains, festooned in ribbons of shameful cannibal slime.
[(*) BBC News Online (3 October 2013): Spanish Slug Invasion: Scientists seek public's help. URL: https://bit.ly/killerslugs [Accessed 05 December 2021)]
When, clenched in the bored fangs of middle winter's night
I fail, with rubbery tongue, to make you comprehend
That we haven't fed the shelves since last the moon was tight,
You stick your honking face in mine and lick my cheek again;
That special quizzical look betrays our wordless plight:
We have everything to eat for, but not the cash to spend;
Am I not your pork, your grog, your spliff? Go on, take a bite!
But instead, I rummage in the depths, blind cupboard-mole
Emerging cobweb's victor, armed with six pocked packs
Of unmolested scratchings, ancient whiskey-bottle whole,
My long-lost zippo, some lager, two times twenty Marlboro fags.
With fake care cradling hooch, tabs, cans, and stuff,
I vacate the tundral kitchen, make for duvet-land's
Rough-fluffed comfort; you follow, in a huff;
Tossing off soiled Air-Max, no need for hands,
I dive-bomb the bed, and maggot deep enough,
Into its murky depths, still clawing the booty
Unspoiled, as you pour your bulk, hairy and gruff,
Into the nest near my feet, my slavering beauty.
A stomach rumble, or some minor growl, emerges,
As I stub my toe in your eye, or whack your muzzle,
To stay my cramped left hand as lonely it urges
Tight stopper from the firey life-juice. I shuffle
Upwards through the claggy sheeted tunnel,
And you mirror me, daft shaggy mate. Then, muffled
Gas-spurt, disgusting, ruffles blankets' skins
With a cheesy grin, to fill the fungus-graced hovel;
But I uncork, and witless unwinding begins:
With a swift, sharp slug and startled groan
I dragon-fire choke. And then, with the bottle
Propped between my knees and your back bone,
I tremble, inserting one greasy porcine pack
Between my jaws: a fox set to rend an urban rubbish sack.
Oh, how the salt-sodden dust-shower that greets me, entices:
Behold my crispy nuggets before you start to chew;
Savour my horrid, hair-specked, tooth-shattering vices!
I suck in the stench, nose glued to the plastic,
Salacious snout-ways awash with animal glue;
One of the crunchy golden hussies fantastic
Pops unbidden into my glen-whatever replenished gob,
Draws forth sloshes of industrial mouth-bliss dew,
Thwarting trenchant solitude's hatchet jobs;
So then beloved beast and I, yelp together,
You slurpily gulping my hand, as I palm off a few
Rock-hard knuckles of death-dicing pig-leather
Delight, down into the dank pit's mucky inhuman stew:
Such intimate sharing defies all articulate measure.
There are years of this grunginess, I imagine,
Stocked in life's uncharted backroom bars,
Where for our sorrowed selves we could fashion
Heavy blankets to fend off rabid loneliness's cares,
And stay awake all night, quaffing, rehearsing dead jokes,
Licking fingers, gut-coughing out the same old smoke;
Until at last we are both accosted by slumber;
My hands still clutching guitar's plastic six-o'clock strings,
Your head heavy-draped, drool-spliced to my shoulder;
So that at midday we surface, sun-cursed vampire kings,
I, bleary, pounding, incoherent, chaos beholder,
Declare half-hearted contrition for our manifold sins;
And promise today we surely shall get into harness,
Put on our life-gear, get out and greet the sun;
Air the pale flesh, find in nature some drop of catharsis:
Rout the grizzled black soul-dogs, with a whacking great gun.
"This wise old whiskery fish swims up to three young fish and goes, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?' and swims away; and the three young fish watch him swim away and look at each other and go, 'What the fuck is water?' and swim away."
David Foster Wallace: "Infinite Jest" p. 445.
One cold-turkey night I was sheep-counting into a cat-nap sack:
It was brass-freezing monkey-nut weather,
Dog-and-cat-eared rain; But I’m no halcyon-day bunny-boiler,
So wild-geese chasing, toothy-serpent child-thankless,
I crow-flew down the boozer, “The Whistling Pig” –
One very in-hand bird for us two-arm bush-babe bandits,
Who otherwise might’ve blue-sky fly-dropped from
Surfeit, turfed-out from gift-horse mouth-staring.
Any-which-way, there was no cat-swinging room at the inn,
What with all the pond-scum sun-escaping,
Rag, tag and bobtail from the old dog-wagging wife-tails,
Death-badgering in the vipers’-nests,
Always berated for premature weasel-popping,
Pig-ear fabricating, prioritizing carts over horses;
I, night-owl, was paper-tiger chasing,
A water-drunk fish, rat-arsed on
Fly-casting shaggy-dog stories,
Straight from the horse’s mouth
(No cat’s-cradle-tied tongue for me!)
Moulting them before the massed pearl-clad swine,
Wall-hugging flies, dead-curious cats;
Tangled spider-yarn thread-tales spinning,
About my pig-fuzz stool-pigeon brother,
The familial black sheep who thought
He was the bee’s knees, a dark-horse;
But was more bosom-nuzzling snake,
Or spot-changing leopard, who,
Delighted high-tide clam, was often
(When not rugger-buggering) rug-bug-snug
With other men’s early-worm-catching birds,
Making burdensome two-backed beasts,
Playing hokey-pokey pig; hookey-schooled
In Wales, all about bird-bee world-ways.
Then, bloody-bludgeon the home-roosting
Hash-tag-stoned crow-tweeters, he
– Bipedal ape with mutt’s nuts –
Fishy rat-smelling, arrives on shanks’ pony,
A room-filling elephant,
Destined for sheep-slash-goat separating;
A herring-red ointment-fly, derailing
Micey-man’s best-laid plans, as I up-clammed
And out-chickened. What a mare’s nest!
Frère-rabbit dearest, peacock-proud and tooth-claw red,
Bee-lined me, un-doglike, no horse-holding around him,
Not this fine-haired frog’s best friend, no care-bear he;
Intent on immediately immolating my sacred cows,
On account of all the de-bagged cats.
Led to lamb-slaughtering kangaroo court,
Pigeon-chested, coot-bald in hush puppies,
I was lamb-dressed, lame-duck mutton
A moth, ant-pant wriggling, horse-whispering,
Flame-caught in a pretty fish-kettle
Meanwhile all the other wolf-clothed sheep,
Biking-fish useless (giddy non-scaping goats),
Hung round, neck-weighty albatrosses;
Same-feathered birds, together-flocking,
Unseeing monkeys nowt-doing,
No dicky-birds uttering, grass-hissing snakes,
Maybe shedding a few crocodile tears; shit-coward dogs,
As I took lion’s punishment-share,
Two stones killing this pretty polly!
I tried to tell the wall-rat he was March-hare mad
– His snoggin’ noggin full of belfry-bats and bonnet-bees –
But home-come were my roosting-chickens;
He, butcher’s-dog fit and beetle-browed,
Havoc-crying, pigged-out, let the war-dogs slip;
Bee-busied himself dead-horse flogging
This tale-tattling bird, a lion led on by donkeys,
Headless-chicken cavorting with Cheshire-cat grin;
Thus, hence and so, he dead-sheep savaged
A once princely-prized white elephant,
Bull-whipping me to horned oxtail soup.
Well, swan-song indeed it was for this
Dicky-bird’s tale-telling career.
But a one-swallow summer was it not;
And this old wound-licked canine’s
Dead-cat bounced from the doghouse, and
Learned at least a few new tricks:
Pear-Partridge Tree One:
Weasel words are red bull-rags to a
Wrong-tree barking-mad top-dog;
You should dismount your high hobby-horse,
And cow-come cud-chew before
Shan’t count their unhatched
Nest-egg chicks, without winding up
Never, nod ever
Lack’s old insistent storm sheds acid streaks
On love’s dumb face, cloaked thick with memories;
Want’s bronze typhoon, relentless, wet-flame fresh
Twists ice-cold lightning key in heart’s dead lock,
Its sharp snap sensed by weeping weeds alone;
And single sun-crazed toucan, which cares not
But swoops hot-hued through rough-hewn mangrove isles
Rich-grown in messy, fertile swamps of dreams;
Buoyed up by promises unbroken yet,
Of fragile feelings heedless as it falls,
Enamoured still with brittle whitewashed lies;
In time’s deep soothing spray, lost to the world.
[South Wales Evening Post: 05/08/19 as PM]
[Written for, and performed at, Swansea University Poets and Poetry Slam with Dr Catriona Ryan at the Uplands Tavern, Swansea (3 April 2012)]
Little creature, shaking,
Under table, hidden,
Looking up, expectant,
Naughty child, awaiting
Parents’ censure, bawled out.
Once dynamic fur-ball,
Joints arthritis crippled:
Menace in the garden,
Kitchen lino hater,
Luscious carpet wrecker.
You who always frolicked –
Moist eyes say all and nothing:
"Please respect my woofed plea,
You who used to love me,
When I was a puppy –
Just don't dare to hurt me,
Although I'm old and smelly."
[South Wales Evening Post: 18/02/20 as PM]
And you, cruel callous creature,
Foul environment defiler,
Cower, censure expectant,
Impotent to contain, to restrain,
Lumbering mongrel gymnastics,
With visage pained and pitiful,
Begging punishment’s forbearance,
For paw-prints carelessly imposed;
Mocking, in semblance, your
Sacrosanct-space violations –
Doggedly dastardly – which,
With disgruntled growling,
You so unlovingly unleash.
You – Yes you – Oh, yes:
Into outer darkness
Cast out – (Whilst we
Clean up the mess). Again!
[South Wales Evening Post: 17/03/20 as PM]
Obsidian vaults ring Her quantized name,
Rutile spikes aquiver with whispered crimes,
Caterwauling first night when I lung-scorched came,
Trailing comets from Orion, torn wings aflame:
Thrilled witless; on spoor of other-worldly game.
Her spring-heeled fangs round compass wend,
Tear guiltless chunks from alien soil,
Whose looming labyrinths loose proud dead,
Exhumed limbs littering graves’ expanse:
Eyes pebbled yolks, yearning still to dance.
Six lime moons leer in dark-mattered skies,
Wild tentacles greet their scar-tissue grins:
Love’s steely teats spin noxious webs,
Lewd promises kept by razor tongues:
Ultraviolet dawn spawns mucoid young.
But all Sirens smelt in the same soup-sea,
Recycled afresh through time-sieves’ rime;
Futures fossilized on irascible pyres:
Mutations enmeshed in filigree wires;
She, spore-squirts, crenulates, swift expires.
So, hush! Space shall warp as I force wormhole door,
Fleeing seared wastes of acid-etched loss,
Where desolation’s haze floods volcano floors,
Dousing spent nest, flaring larval fears:
Oh! My spine-studded face sheds vitriolic sap-tears!
Now, those ammonia geysers never wane;
Calcite honeycomb moans on hyperbolic plain,
Rueing the conjunction when Chimera lay slain,
Her craw-cloying cackle, triple heart’s cruel bane:
Big-banged – eternal – greased with umber-gored pain.
[South Wales Evening Post: 28/04/20 and 02/05/20 as PM]