Julia Griffin


The Men from U.N.C.L.E.A.N.

UK 2021″                           
—Poster for COP26

Too grim to aim a rhyme at?
It’s all that’s in my range:

Mollusk of the Year

“Researchers in Germany are asking people around the world to vote for their favourite creature
out of a list of five nominees. The winner will have its genome sequenced, with scientists extracting DNA
to work out more about how it evolved. This is a significant prize for a group of animals
that remains largely unexplored from the genetic point of view”
The Guardian, March, 2022

Five modish mollusks take the floor:
Which will mankind be voting for?
Just one can win the phylum crown
And have its genomes written down,
Translucent, shining, protein-rich:
You might choose any one—but which?

I The Barge-Footer

My titles vary. I’m rubes-
Cens Fustiaria
, no less,
To Latinists: “a blushing”—what?
(Some words look Latin but are not).
Barge-Footer is my English name,
Which fills me with a certain shame;
In Greek(ish), I’m a Scaphopod
And that is how I’m known to God.
But all of this is by the way:
By any name or sobriquet
I’m hardly known at all to man;
So back my number while you can!

II The Telescope Snail

I’m Telescopium, x 2:
The mangrove-dwelling Snail to you,
Rodong to some; although no dud,
To others still my name is Mud
Creeper. I’m loath to undersell
The columella on my shell:
A feature folded, double-ply,
Unique for Potamidiae.
Pray vote for me, and win the key
To my genomic mystery;
Pollution has not killed me! This
Is worth mankind’s analysis.

III The Sea Butterfly

Third on the list, behold in me
Cymbulia Peronii
(A little boat, to give the gist,
But not, I swear, a Peronist).
Sea Butterfly’s a better fit:
On see-through, winglike foot I flit,
Six centimeters wide or so;
If sea’s acidic, I will know,
And this is why I recommend
You vote for me, my human friend:
I’m the canary in the mine,
Who helps you keep it alkaline.

IV The Painted Snail

Meet Polymita Picta next:
Endangered, Cuban, highly sexed,
The Painted Snail—that “paint”’s a slur;
“Enhanced” I very much prefer.
Though not just shell—my mind is keen—
I am a blue-blood beauty queen,
And thus my love life sparks (you’ve guessed!)
Considerable interest.
My “love dart” sounds like fun? It is!
And you’ve a way to probe it, viz:
Give me your vote, be cute-astute:
With Poly you’ll have Picta beaut!

V The Naval Shipworm

You’ve saved the best for last. I am
In fact no Shipworm but a clam:
My Latin handle is Teredo
; I resemble Play-Doh,
Rolled loosely into 2-foot strips.
My favorite snacks are wooden ships,
As Christopher Columbus learned.
But recently this worm has turned,
And human fearfulness and spite
Have ripened into appetite.
I’m wanted for a table d’hôte!
So fair is fair: I’ve earned your vote.

Five fine contenders, you’ll concede:
Each one an honor to its breed,
And all in hopes that you’ll select
Its name (or names)! The box once checked,
You cannot change your vote, I fear.

To find the winner, please click here.


Julia Griffin still lives in South-East Georgia. She was fortunate enough recently to win two prizes in the Kim Bridgford Sonnet Contest, about which she is, as they say, humble (= ecstatically proud).