Bangers, Bears & tentacles!

Three mind-bending poems by an atom, nautilus and tardigrade


Ed Gillespie is here to bend your mind. Imagine chatting with a superhot primordial atom at the opening of a new bar. Or getting weary life lessons from a wizened nautiloid. Or hearing from a tardigrade why – unlike James Bond – this is No Time To Die

In TOPIA series, Call of the Wild, nature talks. Can you listen?

Otter-ogling Ed Gillespie is a futurist, author, and a self-professed “recovering sustainability consultant”. He’s also one third of Jon Richardson & The Futurenauts. As part of our new series Call of the Wild – and to tie in beautifully and weirdly with TOPIA Season 01: The Big Bang – Ed has written a collection of original poems that give nature a voice.

Hear from Ed in a quick Q&A after we hear from an atom, a nautilus and a tardigrade in a cosmic trio of poems that brings together organic geometry, black holes and mossy piglets in a way we didn’t think was possible.

— At the start

I am the atom primeval 
More hot and dense 
Than any Instagram influencer
The peculiarity of my singularity
Still puzzles cosmologists with regularity

Fourteen billion years ago
In a moment before time
I was ready to blow
My expansion creating space
Not filling it
The even distribution of atomic shoals
Meant not disappearing up my own Black Holes
Awash on a celestial sea of infinite possibilities 
A relentless recession-less tide
Of ever increasing circles
In which the intergalactic plankton of early stars and galaxies whirl
Held by the gravities of matters and energies
Mostly dark

Listen mate
This ain’t no steady state
My primary principle is cosmological
My uniform conception
Limited to your perception
By particle horizons both past and future 
Obscuring what lies behind and beyond
We can only chase time so far
Whichever direction we try to run in
I am vastly cooler now with age
My light-peppered heavens 
Hold more stars than every grain of sand on every beach on Earth
Are more numerous than the synapses in your brain 
As you try to comprehend my enormity 
I am here to bend your mind

And all this in total silence
No Hollywood explosions
No boom and bust
Just the thrusting out of all that is
From a single point of what once was
This is the way the Universe begins
This is the way the Universe begins
This is the way the Universe begins
Not with a whimper but a BANG

— The Nautilus View

What would I tell you O naked apes
From my ancient perspective
Of five hundred million years?
That all your heartfelt tears and fears
Are but ephemeral drops
In my deep blue ocean of time

My almost golden-spiralled shell
Spins out like a galaxies arms
Invoking Nature’s architecture
In creating myself a new prefecture 
Of iridescent domicile 
A new chamber Fibonacci style

You have to follow the Rules you see?
Or artful organic geometry
Where every contrived bit is fit
For form and function and fitting in
It’s what unlocks with one true key
The vaults of my longevity 

I’ve watched whole families come and go
Through evolution’s ebb and flow
The secret of sustained endurance?
Stay quick-stepping within the dance
You humans over-complicate things
Like not-so-humble would-be Kings

So take it from this Nautiloid
Life’s pass can end up null and void
When you fail to carefully note
It’s in one boat that we all float
Not sink, nor swim, nor uber-omnipotency 
The truth’s in neutral buoyancy

— Tiny Resilience

Lions and tigers and bears!
Lions and tigers and bears!
But when all the cats and ursids are gone
The Tardigrades will be marching on

Does a Water Bear care?
When you remove its air? 
Or make it thirsty?
Or fit to bursty?
Without water or in excess
Not really
It’s happy
More or less

You can blast them with ionic radiation
Give them a trip on a space station
Deprive them of food for a decade or more
The Tardigrades will choose to snore
From frozen mountains 
To ocean deep
Their resistance comes from sleep
A lesson in there if your world is broke?
You can have too much time as ‘woke’ 

Here come the slowsteppers! 
They’ve always been with us
Enduring any mass extinctions
A record of quite rare distinction
There’s no denying 
These ‘mossy piglets’
They can probably even survive
On Twiglets

So if a comet comes a calling
And we won’t ‘look up’ to see it falling
Rest assured the future’s saved
But only if you’re a Tardigrade

What’s so good about this?

Poetry can change us and change the way we see the world, which is why historic authoritarians line poets and artists up against the wall first – a brutal acknowledgement of creativity’s power to challenge white-knuckled control and dogma. Poetry threatens dominance, and beckons us on towards somewhere better.

Meet the writer

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