The Paramecium Poem
You’ll find me around and about
Where all of the singles hang out
And the free-living life is so rich—
In the scum on a watery ditch.
If you haven’t chilled out there, you should;
We paramecia call it the ‘hood,
And oh how we love to emote
On the carryout prokaryote.
In thick warm yellow-green ooze
I’m off on a full-throttle cruise,
Leveling-up through obstacle courses
To follow fine scents to their sources—
And carom away from the bad one:
I’d have an eye out if I had one,
For all the beasts that require a
Chase scene in the spirogyra.
Your crafty right turn to deceive a
Pseudopod of some drooling amoeba
Is the wrong turn! and oh hell and you’re
Sucked in by a multicellular,
Then you’re doing hard time in the night
Like some loathsome gut parasite,
Till the troll gets the runs and Yo! it’s
Back out as a free-swimming protist.
One day in the life, as we say!—
When it isn’t one life in a day.
But there’s such a thrill when you feel it,
That really close shave, as a ciliate.
You’ve got to stay on top of the slaughter
Going on in your droplet of water.
So I’m talking some trash and I can’t quit
Till crash! and I’m crashing a banquet,
And you just haven’t chowed until you’ve
Filled the brim of the sweet oral groove
With a tasty traditional feast
Of bacteria, alga and yeast—
When here’s that euglena fella
With his sleek solar-powered flagella
And his snazzy green chloroplast.
“Old Shoe!” he cries, whipping past.
But here’s how I get him to rant,
With a “Hey, you’re quick!—for a plant.”
Then he brakes and reverses for more,
And I show him the old anal pore.
Now some have compared me, it’s true,
To the motorized sole of a shoe,
Or a bumper car on a peal
With a rip-roaring drunk at the wheel.
All slander, my friends: in practice
I spin on my long central axis
While my cilia of so many scores
Are pulling like galley-slave oars—
And every single collision
I make with exquisite precision.
Now all at once out of the blue
I feel like I’m feeling for two,
And know there’s some trouble some trouble,
Since all of my thinking is double.
When ahead lurks a ravenous mite
I veer off to my left—and my right.
Thus my brilliant self-diagnosis:
I just underwent a mitosis!
And that’s when I have to say, whoa!
I’m my own sister cell—and her bro!
Though if one of us stalls and is bested
I’m the me who wasn’t digested.
But it may not be too long a wait
Before two becomes four and then eight,
Sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four—
Which I’m not inclined to deplore,
Though I think I all can agree
That’s a whole lot of no-one but me.
You actually grow kind of lonely
In a crowd of you and you only.
And that’s when I make it my mission
To break the old habit of fission,
And enjoy for some rejuvenation
One hot for a recombination
(Beneficial, not deleterious)
Of the strain we know as mysterious.
There’s nothing quite as erotic
As our mingle before the meiotic;
And then it’s so radically wild—
I’m my very own natural child!
It’s almost a little too clever,
This sort of like living forever,
And there is a price—the price is
A full-blown identity crisis.
Plus all these damn Eras I spend
In this phylogenetic dead-end!
So I’ve got this grand notion to back
Right out of this cheap cul-de-sac,
Then all who can see will be seeing
Me wrong-way the main drag of Being,
Past Adam and Eve and their sinning—
I mean, to the very beginning,
When we all and all for the wiser
Just played in the gush of a geyser.
There I’ll soak up the steam for a while
Like some born-yesterday thermophile;
And sulfur, I may just elect her
My exclusive electron acceptor.
While the good Earth goes on revolving
I’ll amaze with my hyper-evolving—
There’s no way on this side of hell
I’m re-starring as one measly cell.
I’ll spare you the aggravation
Of the 20X magnification
If we meet on my very new stint—
I may have to borrow your squint:
For after my hot-spring sauna,
I’ll be back—as a megafauna.