Bug Blues

Illustration

 

I happened on an arthropod,

A jointed legged fellow,

Who sang a tragic little song

Which ranged from shriek to bellow.

It glared at me with facet eyes.

It gnashed its sideways jaws.

More threatening, I’d say,

Than many mother-in -laws.

“I had a lovely love,” it sang,

“Six legs of sculptured form

Would make Brancusi grit his teeth

Or drown in chloroform.

Her thorax glittered like a gem,

Dark green with streaks of yellow.

Emotions went all loop-de-loop

In me, a simple fellow.

Behind, her convex abdomen

Promised me for eggs.

Ten thousand babies, could she make

With sixty thousand legs.

Four transparent wings she had

For flights profound, profane.

They glowed with spectral iridescence –

Enchanted cellophane!

But then an evil bee flew by

And saw her as a morsel.

It flexed its pincers as it swooped

And grappled her by her dorsal.

Off it flew! I stood transfixed.

My love it stole away.

I swore revenge on all its tribe.

They will regret that day.

So now,” he sang, “I stalk the land

Through grasses and through trees.

I am the great bee bopper

Because I bop the bees.”

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Memes

Microscopic photo

Way back when our prime common forbear lounged in a tide pool of tepid water, this blob of snot became upset by the windy to and fro that whacked it repeatedly and decided to hang onto a good sized pebble to fend off whatever dizziness it was capable of. The rock was an uncomfortable perch with its angular edges and after a few brief millenniums it figured it could do better than the pebble and fabricated, from drifting bits of calcium carbonate, a more appropriate support that, with the experience of time and many unsuccessful attempts, it fashioned our skeletal structure.

Richard Dawkins conceived of the athletic idea that leaps from human mind to human mind to colonize and dominate cultures. This intellectual abstraction or meme can be something as innocent as a catchy tune or a motivation with darker implications like political and cultural ideas with wide and frequently violent effects on human life. He assumed that the proper environment of an idea was a thinking mind and that an idea must have a brain to squat in. But it seems to me that ideas abound outside of minds and that thinking is an activity that is a natural function of the several fundamental forces that diddle with raw matter.

Intellectually capable people who are fond of coddling their fantasies continuously point to the sophisticated engineering inherent in all biological structures and ridicule the idea that the raw push and pull of forces weak and strong plus electromagnetism and gravity could produce both Mickey Mouse and Einstein but an unprejudiced, thorough and honest look around reveals nothing else.

So once you grant that this ingenious universe does not stalk time’s corridors in a beard and a white Mother Hubbard but is an invisible coalition of its components in infinitely varying proportions acrobating itself through its eons, the concept that its creative processes are somewhat along the same lines as that of human efforts seems not too far fetched.

One of the more intractable and cockeyed memes that stooges around in many human heads is the idea that nature is a hierarchy. We graduate from Grimm’s terrible tales to the incorrect evolutionary concoction that the little four legged rat increased its status and metamorphisised into a tree-climbing squirrel type. Thence it worked out grasping hands and evolved from a heavy browed stooped hairy redneck to Fred Astaire in a top hat and tails. And this is proposed as progress. But nobody asked squirrels.

Anyway, those happy amoeboids that started the whole business are still frolicking all over the world and, no doubt, being whacked by other like creatures. And, of course, so are we. And when our clever tricks come back to fry us or freeze us the amoebas will probably still go on playing in their ponds.

So memes, in the same manner as our organic selves, evolve in the sense that they are modified by their environment. Just as mammals are variations on a theme so tunes branch out and acquire families. Anybody who has listened to folk music is familiar with how they hang on to their melodies and change their words through time. Similarly the words that our politicians use once had concrete and sensible meanings but, as George Orwell has vividly described, they can twist around and bite themselves in the tail or explode into gaseous nonsense. Again, this could hardly be construed as progress. And the success of these misbegotten memes in politics and advertising and personal relationships may benefit their existence but they are not particularly kind to humanity.

So you’ve got to be careful to notice whether you’ve got an idea or it’s got you.

Spelunking the Psyche

cave

 

All hard lines, strong shapes

Bright colors, make escapes

To leave remains behind closed lids.

Dark sparkles, vague circles, pyramids

And glaucus forms that shimmer, shake

To part and make the path to snake

In tempting curves that beckon in –

Into miasmas, rubbled trails, widdershin

In halls of bone where eyes, where touch,

Where sound and smell sum to not much

To orient direction. Palaces of psyche here

Erect their towers. Powers form and disappear.

We have arrived at the gates

Where mind mingles with the fates.

 

Threads of silver, threads of gold,

Threads of diamond strung to hold

Baskets of conception, full

Of dripping luscious fruits that pull

Forth visions …blues and reds and greens,

Subtle shades, inbetweens

Encasing passions, joys and frights,

Sleepy loves, circus sights,

Twirling parasols and braying beasts,

Horrid things at nauseous feasts,

Dusty sawdust, acrid smells,

Crunchy berms of peanut shells.

Stacks of baskets packed with stones,

With crystal shapes, jagged bones,

Where shafts of light spear the air,

Ricochet in facet glare,

Speed away into sensation,

Pain diffused to adumbration,

Hints of chaos, hints of hell,

Cacophonic ringing bell

Tolling failure, soft confusion,

Flabby thoughts, odd illusion.

Sliding shapes, found or flat…

Not quite this, nor even that.

Susserations hiss the walls.

Spectral sounds, muffled calls

Echo in, echo out,

Boosting murmurs to a shout.

Away from sounds, around the bend,

Tentacles of stench extend

And split and subdivide

To where fragrances reside.

Filaments of succulence

Explode to flocculence

Which shock through inhibitions

To reminiscent exhibitions

Where shattered memories clatter to the floor.

Sludges of nostalgia to shuffle through, ignore.

The final destination dissolves in fuzzy mist

For the locus of the self, a point, does not exist.

It’s thoroughly distributed,

The sum of all contributed.

A holographic spatter

Of activated matter

That cannot be dissected

From the meat where it’s erected.

 

So we tumble back out into the Sun

Not far from the point where we’ve begun.

 

 

Mistress’ Farewell

Torn note

Have you ever seen a lady with fried chicken in her hair?

Or slept with thirty seagulls in very deep despair?

Have you witnessed glowing sunsets while hanging by your teeth

From a thirty meter tree with hungry roaches underneath?

Have you thrilled to singing waffles doused in motor oil

While demented chimpanzees wrapped your feet in metal foil?

Have you soared above the Andes supported by umbrellas

Lifted to the zenith by four thousand farting fellahs?

Or wandered on the shores

Of the far away Azores

While your ears were gently trembled

By the most persistent snores

Of a somnolent tarantula

In stylish striped plus fours?

If so, there is little I can add to your life.

You had better leave me now and go back to your wife.

 

2 am

Crescent Moon

 

The early black

Is still unstirred

By yawning morning.

The ceiling fills

With predatory thoughts,

Like quiet children

Come to play

Their silent games,

Poking sticks into

Dark passages

Of forgotten memories;

Memories like frightened mice

That scurry off in panic.

The sadly moaning bell

Eighty years ago on a lonely buoy

Shrugging its shoulders

In a choppy sea.

A special purple

Strangely found on both

An apron and a stub of clay

In kindergarten.

The round eyed stare

Frozen to my mother’s face

As cancer pain

Prodded her to certain death.

A pet white rat curled in snooze

On my pillow by my cheek.

The falling crescent moon

Smiles in my window

Like my long gone mother

Soothing me

Back to the peace of sleep.