By | 15 September 2022

This side of the water-line everything is beetles,
on the other, the kingdoms of crabs, all else
are sports, dead-end prototypes, and us.

The startling dominance of it, the inevitable
reordering to the type: un-shucked, re-burdened,
the great evolutionary retreat to the form.

I started this with a thought for shells, for
carapaces, their self-evident superiority; why
else would nature tend towards chitin?

I thought to write something predictable about
vulnerability, about the strength in our softness,
the triumphs inherent in our weakness. I might still.

But this week the news is full of tanks, the men
crowded in them, the men that have sent them,
their mud-mired convoys, the shells they discharge.

The news is full of stories of farmers hitching
their rusty tractors to tanks and dragging them off
the road. Second-hand tanks selling on eBay.

It’s funny for a day, but where are all the tanks
coming from? A phylum I’d thought abandoned
long ago. Extinct. Hammered into ploughshares.

No useful form ever fails if it fills a niche.
Turn over any log, scrape the ocean. So now
my Timeline is filled with hard shells rutting a field.

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