Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heading South, Caterpillar Life

I live a life of happy accident. The word for that is serendipity. Or another take on it. I live a life of sloppy good luck. It comes out okay even with all the disasters and reversals. The sloppy good luck is a family idea but actually came from an old science fiction/fantasy story. It might have been Robert Sheckley who wrote it. The story was about a man who attracted little people into a cage that he had, where they built a small home, very nice and upscale, a high class family of little people, and he started having great luck. They asked him to leave them utterly alone, the cage covered, and to respect their privacy. But he couldn't. Meanwhile his luck was just great and he was having all sorts of things go right in his life. But he couldn't resist, and he kept sneaking peeks at what they were doing. He never saw them. But pretty soon there was a for sale sign out. Then they were gone. Then some others moved in and the place started to deteriorate. So did his luck. No longer quite so good, and so the house began to look kind of like a slum and his luck got sloppy. That's where the phrase comes from. I have gremlins but they are quite low class and so I have a low class grade of good luck. My mother actually coined the phrase for us.

Heading South

I fell in the stream
Head first, awkward, and I bounced
Off the bottom stones.
Head sore and bruised, I got slimed
From the mossy stuff that grew
At the stream's edges.

I tried to stand up, dizzy.
Then began to swim
With the current, south.

I thought, "Just like my whole life."
Again headed south.


And like so many people, most of my defenses are bluffs. And I am not very brave. But unlike this next critter, I do have some principles even if they are skewed. I am not a snitch, have never been a snitch and worked very hard to avoid being a snitch when it loomed. There was a period when it was a really big possibility that pressures to snitch might overwhelm me. It turned out that I would sooner self destruct, tear everything about my life apart and start over. I realize that good citizenship apparently allows for snitching under certain conditions, even requires it, and in fact you can go to jail for not snitching. In crime, not telling what you know makes you an accessory. But something in my core is appalled at that idea and I do NOT really want to participate in a society that thinks like that. Ultimately, I claim, that slope is slippery and leads to some form of fascism. I really don't know why I am like this. I don't live a secret life myself but I deeply believe in YOUR right to secrets, pretty much no matter what they are.

Caterpillar Life

I have curled tightly
Inward around my whole self,
Showing you the spines
I grew to threaten you all,
All you damn fools who bug me.
My fuzzy black soul,
The yellow shows too. I quake
To think you hold me.
If I get away
I will go and tell on you
How you grabbed me up.


  1. Greetings from England.Nice Blog. Regards

  2. Yes, mr caterpillar should tell on them all! The first has a lovely idea behind it.....I do believe in luck. I know I shouldn't, but I do!!!!

  3. I recognize some quality's of myself here

  4. I believe in luck in its way -- mostly like you are thing somehow leads to another...and at least you are swimming:) "Low class gremlins"...that made me laugh.

    "Caterpillar Life" makes me think of when my children were younger and on occassion we would find and keep a caterpillar. Twice we were guilty of changing the course of nature :( Though one of the caterpillars had been a host for a wasp -- and they hatched out of it in a rather horrifying way -- no fault of ours.

    I think the other caterpillar we kept definitely told on me and I deserved it. It still haunts me...maybe a poem will come of it someday.


    "I have curled tightly" I love this line.

  5. Tony, Welcome from across the pond. My mother's mother, one Millicent Dunton came from England, was a burlesque singer in the teens and perhaps 20's.

    Jo, mr caterpillar (er, do caterpillars have sex??) maybe should tell on them all...but when I was a kid, such a critter would be called a crybaby or tattletale. Ewwww! Fate worse than death. What better way to generate bad luck than being a tattletale?

    confused, you mean you are a criminal minded poet with sloppy good luck??

    Faith, your links work fine. Thanks for the picture of a silk moth. I believe in fate and destiny too. I especially believe in the fate/destiny idea of a calling, though I am not too sure that calling takes a form that really fits one or another of our language categories and so may be difficult to discuss precisely.

  6. Love your caterpillar, Christopher. Both of these are good poems, and the stories with them, too. I'm with you on the snitching.

    I was the caterpillar, once, when I was about 18, in the car of a "friendly" police officer who was sure I knew about something my friends had done. He chatted me up, even offered me rides places a few times. He became threatening when he realised that all his friendliness wasn't getting him anywhere. That just made me curl up even tighter into my ball, poisoned bristles pointed out.

  7. Thanks for your comment, Rachel, and your image of the caterpillar, who all of a sudden seems to be rather brave :)

  8. snitchy kitchy cobble sort

    eb a noble gribbit

    ef ah gitchy snitch kud schnort

    a snitchy gitch wud git it

    yOu R kNoT D ONy 1 WhO kiN maKe KeWl pOMeSes KISTAFA!

  9. I am not happy with you staying away this long. The dansing pit has grown cold. The emf readings have dropped drastically. The gremlins are unruly. The bird poop landing on my car has grown exponentially. 1+1 no longer equals 2, but that's not really your fault. But my cat is lacking her ectoplasm and that certainly is your fault.

    In other words, you were sorely missed.

    You are demonstrating superior poetic ability. Have you been practising?


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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