DECLASSIFIED: Vestigial Structures

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Click here to read the original poem.

Life can make a person feel dreadfully small.

The very act of realizing that your body is a number of well-refined subsystems acting in accordance with one another is just one of them, and one I find myself drawn to every so often.

So I may be, in essence, a machine but how finely-tuned? How well-oiled?

I function, with some minor hiccups here and there. But I’m only human, and humankind is not evolution’s crowning achievement.

Evolution is not necessarily “survival of the fittest.” Evolution is throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. It is a game of inches; it’s about finding the rules of survival and bending them into a pretzel. It’s about how heavily you can game the system.

Humans have some kinks to work out, for sure. Our minds are powerful and flexible, but there are vestiges of bygone eras long since past encoded in the way we organize ourselves (I.E. tribalism), and process the world.

No human alive NEEDS their tonsils or their tailbones. But they also don’t impede the way we go about or business enough to be dealt with by the drip, drip, drip of natural selection.

But we have what we’ve got, regardless of our ability to use it.

This is what inspired me to write Vestigial Structures. Those bits of me left over from when I definitely wasn’t human.

Olm

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Life in the undercurrent,

isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

If I could still see,

I’d tell you all about it.

But I’m not complaining, believe me,

I get by.

No one bothers you down here,

unless they’re really asking for it.

Lazily,

though I prefer “efficiently,”

Sliding through nooks and crannies.

I spend my time,

sidewinding,

along dark-as-night,

limestone-lined,

walls to find,

fissures filled with my friends,

hopefully I’ll be the first to find food.

Life here is slow, simple,

beautiful in its brutality,

we’re up to our necks,

in fresh,

cold water,

and little else.

I wish I could tell you more,

or give you some clues,

but you can’t see what I do.

Vestigial Structures

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Long ago my ancestors left the trees 

with their tailbones tucked between their legs,

and they turned out fine.

Snakes did the same

And grew out their spines,

More than I could ever hope to,

Lost some things along the way

And are still with us today.

Who needs tonsils anyway?

Consult the appendix,

All you like,

You won’t find a good reason.

“All these pieces of me,

From yesteryear,

Are still here,”

I said, getting goosebumps.

If my flaws make me human,

Then what about the leftovers,

From when I definitely wasn’t?

In doing what it takes to survive,

You cannot afford,

To go back to the drawing board,

And you can’t correct the record,

When your body is the archive.

Zygomatic Arches

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Structures,

Carefully crafted,

To cause ruptures.

Bite down,

Break through,

Crumbling, crunching, crumpling,

Splitting in two.

Anchors for muscles,

Housings for engines,

Ivory tunnels,

Which flank,

The body’s front door.

Leave room for more!

Gnawing,

Sawing,

Clawing.

You are what you eat.

Seriously,

That matter becomes you.

That saying is true,

You eat,

So you can continue,

To chew.