Jim Hayes was a featured poet in Light Quarterly in 2005 and won the Espy Prize for Light Verse in 2004. His work has appeared in First Things, Iambs & Trochees, Able Muse, Per Contra, The Chimera, The Susquehanna Quarterly, and many other print and online journals.
Long, long ago, sans trouble or fuss,
lived a single cell―Proto-pseudopodus.
In his bubbling pool of primordial slime
he propagated by fission to while away time.
He lived a simple life until (Yes!)
one day there came by―Proto-pseudopodess.
A gel on her own can’t afford to be choosy
so she slithered into his primal Jacuzzi.
She oozed her way over to where he was sitting
(she’d had more than enough of binary splitting)
and shyly she whispered her name “Am..ee..ba”
He said he was Solo-man, was she a she?―Ba
boom!―a new way of procreating!
(She delighted to see his equipment mutating)
Seeing right through his transparent features
she sensed they would start a new race of creatures.
That would swim in the sea or walk upright on land.
She held what would one day turn into his hand.
With the insight of science today we can tell he
employed the missionary jelly-to-jelly.
I pondered a conundrum Richard Dawkins tried to beg
an answer for―which one came first, the chicken or the egg?
If I could solve the puzzle I foresaw the consequences―
fame and riches, bigger britches, my own amanuensis!
I went to work immediately consumed by curiosity,
on round-the-clock experiments in ovoviviposity;
I disembowelled an auk and when I disinterred some dodos
it led me to the biggest hunch since poor, mad Quasimodo’s.
My nose was to the grindstone, I was sticking to the last,
my feet were on the ground each time a chicken egg was passed;
with my shoulder to the wheel by night it took me seven days
to get sufficient data and the right mix of clichés.
At last, I sprung my findings on the scientific world,
my conclusions were so startling that mustachios unfurled.
It’s said that Dawkins, turning pale, harrumphed with indignation,
when I proclaimed the egg came first, albeit, sans impregnation.
On lecture tours I’d prove the ozone layer did not exist―
I didn’t find its nest in my researching I’d insist,
and then I’d demonstrate the multiplicity of sums
it took to solve the sternest yet of all mans’ conundrums.
When Cambridge dons demanded I corroborate the facts,
I did so quoting Joyce James, Beeton Mrs and Planck Max.
With self-relating, obfuscating footnotes writ in Latin
I prevaricated endlessly until they threw the hat in.
I received a chair at Princeton and a sinecure at Trinity,
some sycophantic followers awarded a divinity,
(Although my theory was considered eminently odd
I fully understood why they believed I was a god).
I slapped down every upstart’s probing question with another,
with books in print I now could use my gravitas to smother
the least dissent and ridicule the poor fool that began it.
Next week I’ll prove that life exists on some far distant planet.
Among our Granny’s flowering pots
were leopards, lions, and ocelots;
a cassowary, an alligator,
an elephant―that upped and ate her!
The cops that came investigating
missed the elephant’s masticating.
Accordingly, their suspicions fell
on Miss Livinia Pru-LaBelle,
A sweet, endearing, winsome wench.
They hauled her up before the bench,
“Not guilty miss?” inquired the judge.
“That’s what I said, and I shan’t budge!”
“Then off with her! The lying strumpet!”
the elephant began to trumpet.
But, from the body of the court
(responding to her brave retort)
up-spoke the grieving alligator;
“The elephant’s the perpetrator!”
The judge said “Half a mo’ while I
check out this jumbo’s alibi—
“Now, where were you while Gran was et?”
The elephant mumbled “I forget…”
They sent him down for granicide—
clearly, the elephant had lied.
The First Laugh
A fly, in a flash of inspiration,
wove a web, an exemplary act
which taught every animal in creation
that they had gifts they’d hitherto lacked.
So mice made honey and fish climbed hills
and elephants nested in sycamore trees,
and every evening the whip-poor-wills
swam with cats in the depths of the seas.
Lions gambolled about in flocks,
the dawn chorale rose from singing baboons,
chickens danced with a whistling fox
to the rhythm of meercats playing the spoons.
In Eden all creatures acquired a new craft
and one, for the first time ever, laughed.
Feline aerodynamics dictate
the behaviour of cats when falling;
no matter the height it’s always their fate
to land on their feet caterwauling.
The laws of buttered bread demand
it must always hit the ground
butter side first. The ways both land
give rise to a thing I have found―
a simple slice of buttered toast
strapped to the back of Macavity―
butter side up―allows me to boast
I’ve discovered antigravity.
The twisting of the buttered bread
cancels the spin of the cat,
and rather that falling you’ll find instead
they hover in front of your flat.
The buttered cat―I have done the sum―
released, will reach the height
where forces in equilibrium
cancel each other outright.
The twisting of cats and butter repulsion
can be finely tuned so that
to rise, remove some butter emulsion―
to fall, shave fur from the cat.
Ten million cats with buttered backs,
a monorail over the nation
would give us all―no need for tax―
An Apple a Day
On Monday Alfred heard his mother say;
“If you will eat an apple every day,
you’re going to find a doctor is not needed.”
Alfred, nodding, dutifully heeded.
On Tuesday, Alfred’s mother took a turn,
and Alfred showed how quickly he could learn;
when mother cried; “Run―get the doc forthwith!”
Alfred grabbed himself a Granny Smith.
On Wednesday, when his father got the flu,
Alfred knew precisely what to do;
he stood and watched his poor old dad expire
and slowly chomped a Wilkinson’s Desire.
On Thursday when his grandparents turned sickly,
they asked young Al to fetch the doctor quickly.
When Alfred saw them stiffen on the bed
he finished off a Falkbeer’s Autumn Red.
Inevitably, in the next few days,
as all his cousins died of a malaise,
Alfred did his best to come to grips
by eating Russet Wonders to the pips.
That weekend, as most people would expect,
the cops arrested Alfred for neglect.
The judge said he had never seen before
a little boy so rotten to the core.
The Cree, the Sioux, the Cheyenne too, came over Daly’s Hill
and fell into an ambush that killed them all, until
they heard a voice commanding “Come home immediately!!”
Reluctantly, we all rose up and went in for our tea.
We fixed a battered wooden crate and scoured the ocean floor,
we scaled the heights of Everest and we fought like Archie Moore,
we “AAAEEEAAAA’d” Tarzan-like when Molly Cleere went by,
each one compelled to do so, though none as yet knew why.
With the blackest of dark secrets and the direst, deadly oaths,
we sanctified our brotherhood of pirates and cut-throats,
but Mickey Fitz got in a scrape and somehow grazed his knee;
his mother fair lit into us for wanton thuggery.
Daly’s hill is long since razed; the wigwams have moved on,
Molly lies in Liverpool and Fitz died in Saigon.
One by one we’re ambushed now, and each one fearfully
awaits the call commanding him; “Come home immediately!”