Like a Snow Flea

Like a snow flea,
wingless but spring-loaded,
its only defense being to launch itself
in a random direction,
but which sometimes ends up
right back in the same spot.

Which absorbs moisture through
a life-long feeding tube in its abdomen
& breathes directly through its thick skin.

Whose blood contains an antifreeze-like protein
that may turn out to have commercial applications
in ice cream & the storage of organs for transplant.

Which joins a million others of its kind
in late winter — cabin-fever time —
for mass migrations across
the frozen Serengeti of the woodlot,
where they are often mistaken for ashes, black pepper,
or some other dark seasoning.

Which continues to molt
even after reaching maturity
& alternates between stages when it can have sex
& stages when it can eat,
shedding its skin after each.

Which reproduces without physical contact:
the male deposits a spermatophore,
the female stops by later & picks it up.

Which can walk on water.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. there is nothing!

    surely there is no sign of them now when winter hasn’t yet begun. is there?


  2. Were you consciously riffing on Smart? Anyway, it’s brilliant, either way.


  3. q.r. – No, I haven’t seen any yet.

    dale – My inner grammarian is having conniptions about this piece, so I’m glad to hear you say that. Yeah, at one point I had every phrase beginning with “For…” but I decided not to go that route. I’m surprised you still caught the echo. (I also decided not to intersperse with lyrics from Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” though there were a few lines that really fit.)


  4. Interesting… But you needed to smack down your inner grammarian, and wake up your inner proofreader, who missed “back pepper”. :-)

    The scary thing is, that would be “inappropriately appropriate” if they were actual fleas. (Admittedly, I had to look them up myself).

    (And demonstrating the Law of Korrection Karma, I needed multiple edits for this comment!)


  5. Thanks for the catch. I’m always more keen on getting the grammar o.k. (to my own specs – i don’t give a damn about “proper” grammar) than proofreading, in the same way that I tend to keep my living space picked up but rarely bother to dust or vacuum.


  6. Love that. Now I have to go think about all the other possible meanings of “dark seasoning”. ;)


  7. Well, you taught me something new and you wrote an entertaining poem. Double duty. I like the repetition of ‘which.’


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