Saturday, January 08, 2011

Science Poems for January 2011: 8

Last April I posted a science sonnet a day in celebration of National Poetry Month (index with links here). This January I am posting a science poem a day, written in various traditional forms, in honor of Science Online 2011.

The "fifth annual international meeting on Science and the Web" occurs Jan. 13-16, 2011. Click on the logo below to access their daily digest (already active) on

As with the sonnets, my January poems take their cues from science-based articles. I also have two works in a special science poem section (vol. 33 #5/6) of Star*Line, journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can read my "Ciliate Sestina" here.

Speaking of Sonnets -- "In Development" and "Manipulations" from last April's collection have made it into Open Laboratory 2010, which will contain 50 essays, 6 poems, and 1 cartoon. I am thrilled to be among the awesome company listed here! Thanks and kudos to editor Jason G. Goldman and to everyone involved with the project.

Today's poem takes its cue from "An Exploration on Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia Production by Insect Species Suitable for Animal or Human Consumption" (Dennis G. A. B. Oonincx et al., PLoS ONE, Dec. 29, 2010). Click on the article link to learn more about the research. To learn more about the traditional poetic structure used, click on the form name below the title.

The Ballad of Big Bug Ranch
(Form: Ballad stanzas)

Our bovines graze in ruminant ways
And pigs love muddy masses.
It's a pleasant farm, so what's the harm?
But think of the greenhouse gases.

It's a daunting feat to grow your meat
Sans methane and ammonia.
They raise a stink. And yet, you think
We'd solve that problem, don't ya?

What with a stew of CO2
And N2O emissions,
The Netherlands has tried its hand
At grantin' what we're wishin'.

Their team has spurred a Grade A herd
And might have found a winner.
A future date might yield a plate
Of healthy bugs for dinner!
(Thorax soufflé. Carapace flambé.
Already I feel slimmer!)

Those locusts feeding off your crops?
They've joined mealworms and crickets
As mini-livestock caged and bred
To be our next meal tickets.

And though a roach or scarab
Doesn't make us feel attracted,
They breed like wild, and once they've died,
Their protein is extracted.

See, insects are poi-ki-lo-therms,
And all you need to know
Is that they're good with using food
To help their bodies grow.

And pound for pound, the team has found,
Especially with mass gain,
Bug gas released shows a big decrease
Over cows and pigs, it's claimed.
(Plant respiration's counted, too,
So carrots can't be blamed.)

Along with carrots, chicken mash
Were specials of the day.
A mixed grain feast, even beer yeast
Would spike the bugs' entrées.

Their body weights were measured
With their breathing, in and out.
And those little tykes were treasured
As they grew up big and stout.

We get more bang for the bug, it seems,
Compared to barnyard mammals.
This research covers brand new ground
In edible insect annals.

These eco-friendly arthropods
Could well decrease the sting
Of greenhouse gas, as less is passed
And less pollution clings.
(And think of all the benefits --
We'll all get extra wings!)

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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