Invertebrates In Ink


There is a long history in literature of critical work by, or about, people who don’t need backbones.  Too often, we have been the butt (or the instrument) of jokes, but the flexibility-challenged, bony world is starting to take us seriously!  Here is just a sample of invertebrates in literature, or making it themselves…


nobody loses all the time

i had an uncle named
Sol who was a born failure and
nearly everybody said he should have gone
into vaudeville perhaps because my Uncle Sol could
sing McCann He Was A Diver on Xmas Eve like Hell Itself which
may or may not account for the fact that my Uncle

Sol indulged in that possibly most inexcusable
of all to use a highfalootin phrase
luxuries that is or to
wit farming and be
it needlessly

my Uncle Sol’s farm
failed because the chickens
ate the vegetables so
my Uncle Sol had a
chicken farm till the
skunks ate the chickens when

my Uncle Sol
had a skunk farm but
the skunks caught cold and
died and so
my Uncle Sol imitated the
skunks in a subtle manner

or by drowning himself in the watertank
but somebody who’d given my Uncle Sol a Victor
Victrola and records while he lived presented to
him upon the auspicious occasion of his decease a
scruptious not to mention splendiferous funeral with
tall boys in black gloves and flowers and everything and
i remember we all cried like the Missouri
when my Uncle Sol’s coffin lurched because
somebody pressed a button
(and down went
my Uncle

and started a worm farm)

Various Poets:

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was slightly grey,
It didn’t have a father,
Just some borrowed DNA.

It sort of had a mother,
Though the ovum was on loan,
It was not so much a lambkin,
As a little lamby clone.

And soon it had a fellow clone,
And soon it had some more,
They followed her to school one day,
All cramming through the door.

It made the children laugh and sing,
The teachers found it droll,
There were too many lamby clones,
For Mary to control.

No other could control the sheep,
Since their programs didn’t vary,
So the scientists resolved it all,
By simply cloning Mary.

But now they feel quite sheepish,
Those scientists unwary,
One problem solved, but what to do,
With Mary, Mary, Mary…
(Author unknown.  Not exactly protozoa but too good to leave out…)

Two cells of E. coli were wandering slowly
Down the gastrointestinal tract.
An F+ was he, an F- was she,
And their membranes were bound to attract.

Now the dainty F- was born in a sinus
Where her members did seldom trespass,
But the brawnt F+ was spawned in some pus,
And produced both acid and gas.

A kiss he had stolen, down deep in the colon;
“Don’t touch me”, she said, “or I’ll scream!
I have no protection, and an F+ infection
Would spoil my maidenly dream.”

So the poor lonely fella withdrew his flagella
And worshipped her from afar;
“At least”, he said, “wait, till I can mutate
And come back an HFR.”
Authur Unknown

Ode to the Amoeba
Wriggle, wriggle little cell
How I wonder what’s in your gel
May you wriggle all the time
In an undulating rhyme
Tell me all your ambulations
Strictly subject to calculations
How can you tell your head from your feet
When you know quite well both ends will meet
Lowest of all the teeming creatures
About you I see no redeeming features
With this remark the Amoeba made a reply
When he winked with his embryonic eye
A vacuole burst when he shook his head
And this is what the Amoeba said,
“Now listen friend this may be hard to believe
But I am the father of Adam and Eve
Wise King Solomon and all his wives
Owe to me their precious lives
Brutus, Caesar, and the Queen of Sheba
All have descended from this lowly Amoeba
So hear me friend we are all brothers
Though some folks show it more than others!”
Author Unknown

An angry young amoeba named Anne
Said I’m going as fast as I can.
But with only one cell
It really is hell
And I’ll never see Spain or Japan.
Author Unknown


cg510b14f50d696Cartoonist:              Dave Coverly
Comic/Cartoon:     Speed Bump

Don Marquis:

Donald Robert Perry Marquis (1878-1937), was a newspaper columnist, humorist, poet, playwright and author of about 35 books of which the best known are books of humorous poetry about Archy the cockroach and Mehitabel the cat. Don’s work appeared regularly in the New York Sun and the Saturday Evening Post, among other places. Though largely forgotten today, in his time Don Marquis was often described as America’s most popular and best-loved columnist, playwright, humorist and author.marq30a

It’s a curious fact that none of Marquis’ books ever appeared on the best-seller lists, yet so many of the better-selling writers of his time are now virtually unknown. “archy and mehitabel,” meanwhile, has never gone out of print since it first appeared, 88 years ago.

archy at work illustration by George Herriman *********************************************************************

“Dobbs Ferry possesses a rat which slips out of his lair at night and runs a typewriting machine in a garage. Unfortunately, he has always been interrupted by the watchman before he could produce a complete story. It was at first thought that the power which made the typewriter run was a ghost, instead of a rat. It seems likely to us that it was both a ghost and a rat. Mme. Blavatsky’s ego went into a white horse after she passed over, and someone’s personality has undoubtedly gone into this rat. It is an era of belief in communications from the spirit land.

And since this matter has been reported in the public prints and seriously received we are no longer afraid of being ridiculed, and we do not mind making a statement of something that happened to our own typewriter only a couple of weeks ago.

We came into our room earlier than usual in the morning, and discovered a gigantic cockroach jumping about on the keys. He did not see us, and we watched him. He would climb painfully upon the framework of the machine and cast himself with all his force upon a key, head downward, and his weight and the impact of the blow were just sufficient to operate the machine, one slow letter after another. He could not work the capital letters, and he had a great deal of difficulty operating the mechanism that shifts the paper so that a fresh line may be started. We never saw a cockroach work so hard or perspire so freely in all our lives before. After about an hour of this frightfully difficult literary labor he fell to the floor exhausted, and we saw him creep feebly into a nest of the poems which are always there in profusion.

Congratulating ourself that we had left a sheet of paper in the machine the night before so that all this work had not been in vain, we made an examination, and this is what we found:

expression is the need of my soul
i was once a vers libre bard
but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach
it has given me a new outlook upon life
i see things from the under side now
thank you for the apple peelings in the wastepaper basket
but your paste is getting so stale i cant eat it
there is a cat here called mehitabel i wish you would have
removed she nearly ate me the other night why dont she
catch rats that is what she is supposed to be fore
there is a rat here she should get without delay

most of these rats here are just rats
but this rat is like me he has a human soul in him
he used to be a poet himself
night after night i have written poetry for you
on your typewriter
and this big brute of a rat who used to be a poet
comes out of his hole when it is done
and reads it and sniffs at it
he is jealous of my poetry
he used to make fun of it when we were both human
he was a punk poet himself
and after he has read it he sneers
and then he eats it

i wish you would have mehitabel kill that rat
or get a cat that is onto her job
and i will write you a series of poems showing how things look
to a cockroach
that rats name is freddy
the next time freddy dies i hope he wont be a rat
but something smaller i hope i will be a rat
in the next transmigration and freddy a cockroach
i will teach him to sneer at my poetry then

dont you ever eat any sandwiches in your office
i haven’t had a crumb of bread for i dont know how long
or a piece of ham or anything but apple parings
and paste and leave a piece of paper in your machine
every night you can call me archy”


One of the world’s most beloved books about an invertebrate.  You can buy the e-book at:


the old trouper

i ran onto mehitabel again
last evening
she is inhabiting
a decayed trunk
which lies in an alley
in greenwich village
in company with the
most villainous tom cat
i have ever seen
but there is nothing
wrong about the association
archy she told me
it is merely a plutonic
and the thing can be
believed for the tom
looks like one of pluto s demons
it is a theatre trunk
archy mehitabel told me
and tom is an old theatre cat
he has given his life
to the theatre
he claims that richard
mansfield once
kicked him out of the way
and then cried because
he had done it and
petted him
and at another time
he says in a case
of emergency
he played a bloodhound
in a production of
uncle tom s cabin
the stage is not what it
used to be tom says
he puts his front paw
on his breast and says
they don t have it any more
they don t have it here
the old troupers are gone
there s nobody can troupe
any more
they are all amateurs nowadays
they haven t got it
there are only
five or six of us oldtime
troupers left
this generation does not know
what stage presence is
personality is what they lack
where would they get
the training my old friends
got in the stock companies
i knew mr booth very well
says tom
and a law should be passed
preventing anybody else
from ever playing
in any play he ever
played in
there was a trouper for you
i used to sit on his knee
and purr when i was
a kitten he used to tell me
how much he valued my opinion
finish is what they lack
and they haven t got it
and again he laid his paw
on his breast
i remember mr daly very
well too
i was with mr daly s company
for several years
there was art for you
there was team work
there was direction
they knew the theatre
and they all had it
for two years mr daly
would not ring up the curtain
unless i was in the
prompter s box
they are amateurs nowadays
rank amateurs all of them
for two seasons i played
the dog in joseph
jefferson s rip van winkle
it is true i never came
on the stage
but he knew i was just off
and it helped him
i would like to see
one of your modern
theatre cats
act a dog so well
that it would convince
a trouper like jo jefferson
but they haven t got it
they haven t got it
jo jefferson had it he had it
i come of a long line
of theatre cats
my grandfather was with forrest
he had it he was a real trouper
my grandfather said
he had a voice
that used to shake
the ferryboats
on the north river
once he lost his beard
and my grandfather
dropped from the
fly gallery and landed
under his chin
and played his beard
for the rest of the act
you don t see any theatre
cats that could do that
they haven t got it they
haven t got it
once i played the owl
in modjeska s production
of macbeth
i sat above the castle gate
in the murder scene
and made my yellow
eyes shine through the dusk
like an owl s eyes
modjeska was a real
trouper she knew how to pick
her support i would like
to see any of these modern
theatre cats play the owl s eyes
to modjeska s lady macbeth
but they haven t got it nowadays
they haven t got it

mehitabel he says
both our professions
are being ruined
by amateurs


Children’s Science – Gillian Richardson:doyouknowleechesHere’s a fun, up-to-date way to deliver a basic look at a science topic with a degree of “gross” to attract kids. The lively and amusing depictions of leeches at work will be easily remembered while the facts are learned, e.g. the leeches in evening dress eagerly contemplating a cellar full of expired critters demonstrate the fact that “Some leeches feed on dead animals.”

Invertebrates In Ink