I Danced with a Platypus Twenty Years Back
Which is of course a metaphor pointing out
disparities in function and form, and the dangers
inherent in assumption: despite its cute appearance,
the male platypus delivers venom through an ankle
spur on a hind limb; samba with one at your own
peril. My friend wanted to build a catapult, but I
convinced him that trebuchets more efficiently
demolish walls. Instead, he experimented with atlatls,
before reverting to his favorite compound bow. The
fly swatter remains my weapon of choice, followed
closely by steel toe boots. I have yet to meet a scorpion
whose armor could withstand them, but I would never
stomp a platypus without first determining its intentions
and seeking mediation, perhaps through handwritten
correspondence. Pencils owe their origin to the lead
stylus, which eventually morphed into the wood-cased
graphite tool we now use. In his day, Thoreau was better
known for pencil-making than cabin-building. Arthritic
joints prevent me from writing by hand, but I saw lumber
when necessary. According to Ovid, Talos, nephew of
Daedalus, invented the saw, using either a fish jaw or spine
as the model. I look at my food before eating, but the
platypus dives with closed eyes, and locates meals by
detecting electric currents through its bill. In considering
form, I assume function. But we know what that means.
* * *
This was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was published in Cacti Fur in November 2019. Many thanks to editor Jim Thompson for taking this poem, and to Kris B. for sponsoring the poem and providing the title.
If you stomp a platypus the result remains an exquisite corpse. I like that element in this one.
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We played the exquisite corpse game a few months ago. Some if the combinations were stunning!