Bumble

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What power in flights of the bumblebee
Hovering abuzz among sweet flowers
I admit one so small does humble me.

Blossom to bloom, wings flap and rumble free
Climbing petals to apex of bower
What power in flights of the bumble bee.

Swiping pollen to stamen in umbel sea
Sipping nectar, flitting hour to hour
I admit one so small does humble me.

Brave men grunt in wild, yet with grumbling flee
(The threat of stinger leads them to cower)
What power in flights of the bumblebee.

 

Home made in remains of a crumbled tree
Five thousand flowers a day it empowers.
I admit one so small does humble me.

Alas, my poem serves as short fumbled plea
For their scarcity fills me with dour.
What power in flights of the bumble bee –
I admit one so small does humble me.

The rusty-patched bumblebee is a bumblebee and it is endangered. The world of bees is shaken to its core. Many culprits have arisen, though I suspect many culprits are guilty. Bumblebees, mason bees, other bees – are better at pollinating than honeybees. But we get honey from honeybees. Maybe that’s why?

The rusty-patch does live in large colonies. It is named for a rust-colored patch of hair on its abdomen. Bumblebees are not necessarily friendly, but they tend to leave people alone if left alone themselves. They can sometimes be found, exhausted, lying on the ground. Sometimes a bit of sugar water can energize them. Individual bees do not have long lifespans, however – they exist to serve the colony.

Bees are terribly important ecologically, also economically.

The poem is a villanelle. I have written exactly one before this, but I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I also hope we can help the bees.

Lemur

How would you like another primate that I think’s a thriller?
And it’s barely the size of a quarter gorilla!
It’s adaptable, different, one for all niches!
Yet so similar, you can’t tell which is whiches!

The silky sifaka may be in danger the most –
Mouse lemurs are smaller than toast.
The Bamboo is split into 5 species more
The ring-tailed is partly insectivore.

There’s the red and the grey, brown and the black
(Some of those have blue-eyes, or white on the back).
Some of have ruffs, some white fronts, some with eyes shining bright.
Discoveries by Seal, Scott, Madame Berthe and Wright.

All eat plants, some only fruit, some are opportunistic.
By diet alone, there’s no clear heuristic.
Their morphology runs from the lesser to greater –
Great diversity found south of the equator.

What does the primate share in high prominence?
All species display female social dominance.
Many adapt to the harsh, seasonal climate
And come out after dark when everything’s quiet.

The Lemur! Not one, but dozens of species
Existing within Madagascar’s green treesies.
Arboreal, nocturnal, omnivorous, and full of diversity
But existing on the island in relative scarcity.

Tiger Tiger

Tiger Tiger burning bright
Against the sky in the moonlight.
So many hunt the plains and woods
Competing with wolves for the food.

Or they eat the wolves! No need to compete
When you eat the competitor – what a neat
Way to solve a problem with your evolution.
Though, somewhat a grisly solution.

Tiger Tiger – why are you vilified
By those who say they are civilized?
You are large and fierce and burning bright
Humans give you a large burden to bite.

Tigers! Of course, a reference to Blake. Tigers come in many subspecies, all of which are in some sort of trouble. They are ferocious and large predators often feasting on small bears and wolves, depending on their habitat. Many (citation needed) consider them a beautiful creature. Like me.

Confessedly, I am not a great fan of cats, and tigers. But to not consider the lithe, striped cat as an integral part of nature burdens me.

Ele-fan

Will you be within African Forest?
Or the yellow plain of the Savannah?
Sumatra within the bright rainforest?
Within the pages of the Brahmana?
You stand, great bulk towering over all
The creatures of land. Plain or verdant wood.
Should I meet you, I do not intend gall
But as I clasp hand to trunk, brotherhood.
Your family dominates the sunset
Trumpeting the gentle descent of night.
Such a meeting, I would not soon forget
But hold in memory well past daylight.
For the elephant remembers it’s friends.
I offer reciprocity to that end.

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This may be the 2nd sonnet I’ve ever written in my life. About elephants! About a third of the way through the month, I decided elephants could pop up. I was trying to avoid the most well-known species for a bit, but I obviously failed earlier with the rhino.

Elephants have two species: African and Asian. The African is the larger of the two, and always has tusks. Each is split into subspecies. All are Endangered in some way.

Elephants, being large enough to hold up magical worlds, eat a lot. Due to the loss of grazing land for their massive 

diets, they begin to die out. Elephants show great intelligence, kindness, clarity. The remember medical clinics where they can get help – and help others. They have saved the lives of humans. They are known to mourn their dead in funeral.

This poem is somewhat personal, silly as it may sound, because I have always wanted to meet and befriend an elephant. They are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.

Finless

We may go to Mars one day
And sail across the stars one way.
Upon red dirt, humanity may claim
A future against the earth’s mad shame.

This porpoise, too, forced from its home
Travels to lakes, no current to roam.
Away from river, with fishers and boats
Alone in the water, lest a calf it on dotes.

A traveler to a world not it’s own.
Never again to see the Yangtze of home.

The Yangtze River Porpoise is a finless freshwater porpoise. It is dying in the Yangtze River of home, so scientists have been moving it with some success to nearby freshwater lakes. This re-homing may save the species, but not the habitat.

There used to be another finless freshwater porpoise only a dozen years ago. Sadly…

Saola

In the forests of Indochina
Lives an ungulate of mystery.
You may never see it living
As the sunlight hits the trees.

The Saola (or the spindlehorn)
Has a discovery so young –
It’s less than thirty years we’ve
Known it and it’s barbed tongue.

Adept as a strict vegetarian
It feasts on plants and leaves
Solitary and hiding deep
To protect itself from thieves.

Saola! Play your hide-and-seek.
Do it well so none can find.
For your rarity adds value
Creating danger from mankind.

The Saola was discovered in 1992 and almost immediately earned a place on the endangered species list. It is the only member of its genus and incredibly hard to find. This lack of data makes it even harder to keep protected and it is not currently known how many still live.

It’s rarity makes a bold kill for local hunters. Due to the economic and cultural attitudes of its home region, it is an enormous challenge for conservationists to protect it from hunting. This is an area that survives on subsistence and eats what it can find. One great challenge of conservation is local attitudes – many sensible given living conditions. Can one ask humans to starve to protect an ungulate?

There is not much hope for the saola, but it remains a unique and beautiful creature.

Whale Fall

20190407_111821A journey of  slow descent to the ocean floor.
Does it begin as the spirit leaves?
Will it’s family miss
Now it’s gone?
Falling
Slowly
toward
The
Abyss
Calling
A banquet
Into
Session.

Darkness

Grows

Darker

As

Water

Grows

Deeper

All

In One

Piece

Since

Death

Came

In

Peace

The

Slow

Progression

Of Bodies

In Motion

Sliding

 

Further

 

 

Into Darkness

 

 

To Land

 

 

 

 

On the floor of the Ocean.

Blue Whales are one of several species of endangered whales. The Blue Whale is the largest animal that we know of to ever have lived on Earth. Despite its great size, it eats some of the smallest – existing on krill and plankton strained into its great baleen plates.

Whales are big. Unbelievably big. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, you think an Elephant eclipses your buddy Roy, but it’s just peanuts to a whale. The only whale I have seen is a humpback, and I was completely thrown by the size. Blue Whales are over twice as large (their heart is the size of a small car). A blue whale calf can be 40 feet long!

They are threatened by hunting and ocean health in general. As with most ocean species, climate change is having an adverse effect.

While doing research for this poem, I found a great little write-up on whale fall by Ursula Vernon. Poetic (though likely inaccurate) to imagine an old whale passing peacefully in the ocean, sinking slowly to the floor to create entire ecosystems.

Introvert Orangutan

He’s the “man of the forest,” alone in the trees
With a bearded visage and short reaching knees.
An arboreal lifestyle, shy, what a pity.
Oh long-armed friend, won’t you come to the city?

You say forest only, I’m not convinced on that thought.
You’re too anti-social, I think it best you ought
To give apartment living a try.
These big city flats are incredibly high.

Swing from the flagpoles, enter by roof.
Throw on a hoodie, draw it tight – and poof!
No one would bother you at the fruit stand
They’d think you a long-armed, fuzzy old man.

Possibly a client of an espresso shop
Who sits “novelling” until the herbal tea is hot.

Or stay in the woods! But, know that I care.
I worry the woods won’t always be there.
The fruit it is fresh and the air it is clean.
I’ll understand if you refuse the urban scene.

There are three species of Orangutan – Sumatran, Bornean, and Tapnuli. They are all quite endangered.

Orangutans eat mainly fruit and leave most of their lives in the canopy. Compared to all primates, they are the least social. Long arms, very fuzzy, with red hair. This allows them great skill when re-shelving library books as well.

Likely, they also do not live near a city center, but given their anti-social tendencies, I do think they may be sneaking into indie band concerts and giving opinions on cold brew coffee.

Trees of a Certain Age

There are trees that grow in Africa that can live a thousand years!

But people sneak in the front of the garden, cut them out of bed, and sneak out the rears!

The Cycad also carries other bright distinctions.

It has survived three mass extinctions!

A thick, woody trunk like those with leaves nibbled by the sauropods.

It’s relatives survive today in fancy gardens and in nature against enormous odds.

Imagine! A plant with a cousin in the Jurassic!

Dating to the Permian Era! That’s just fantastic.

Today, they have the largest seed cone of any plant.

If it can pollinate, which is hard with numbers so scant.

It suffers from habitat loss and too much distance to properly help others of its kind to fertilize.

Normally, a beetle is used, but now it’s people who hand carry the pollen that prevent its demise.

And I think we could consider the cycad and respect it for the age of its genus.

Don’t be fooled by individuals that would never be accused of leanness.

And consider that plants, too can become endangered species.

Fungus, as well – danger is not limited to the beasties.

The Cycad has recently been found to NOT have been alive during the dinosaur era – more specifically the species surviving today. This is due to evolution of the various extants, so I think the non-precision of calling it a dinosaur plant is fine.

Cycads are found in Africa and Australia in the wild where they grow too far apart to pollinate and people keep stealing them from everywhere. The transplants rarely go well. It is devestating to learn a plant with such a close link to ages past may soon be gone. Animals get all the press, but plants, fungus, and other eukaryotes face extinction as well. It’s probably the lack of a face that keeps it forgotten.

The poem is in the style of Ogden Nash who would write paragraph-length sentences and technically rhyme in couplets. He wrote very silly poetry (“light verse”) and I enjoy his style quite a bit. “In chaos sublunary / What remains constant but buffoonery?” he wrote – which I try to incorporate in my poems this month. I think the main emotion has been anger-foonery.

Hawksbill

The Hawksbill is a spongivore
Swimming in coral and hunting for
Porifera with which to make a meal.

This diet is helpful to the reef
(Lavish sponges form coral grief
Ruling the sea with invertebrate zeal).

Reward for this diet and grace
Is beauty ‘pon the carapace.
Attracting eyes to make the scutes genteel.

To remove a fine turtle shell
Needs post-turtles then expelled
It is not something from which one can heal.

There is no value to the meat.
Rendered as poison by the fleet
Of sponges rendered incorporeal.

Avoid the Hawksbill if you can
(Both meat and shell, more in demand).
In the ocean, alive, it has most appeal.

The Hawksbill Turtle is found around tropical coral reefs. It’s level of ninjitsu is debatable, but it does excel at eating certain varieties of sea sponges. The only spongivoric reptile currently known, the curved bill is exceptional at eating these invertebrates. There is a balance on the reef which is in danger as sponges and algae take over the coral – a balance this sea turtle helps protect.

Some of its diet helps produce bioluminescence in it’s shell – which would make for good poetry, if one were so inclined!

As with the rhino, this turtle is hunted for it’s keratin rich pieces. Instead of health, beauty is the target – tortoiseshell accouterments have been popular for centuries. Despite currently being illegal, it is still used for combs and glasses.

I don’t usually comment on matters poetic, but I made a choice with the scansion here I’m entirely sold on, but throughout the month I want to stretch myself in this way as well.