Beware the Physalia Physalis


“The Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis), also known as the Portuguese Man-Of-War, Man-Of-War, or Bluebottle, is a jellyfish-like marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. Its venomous tentacles can deliver a powerful sting.

Despite its outward appearance, the Man o’ War is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which differs from jellyfish in that it is not actually a single creature, but a colonial organism made up of many minute individuals called zooids. Each of these zooids is highly specialized, and, although structurally similar to other solitary animals, they are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.”



I see you.
Pretty like a peacock spider,
rarer than an albino tiger, than a bear with butterfly wings;
I see you, lone polyp, and I smile Cheshire.
Laugh so wide I think my face might be broken.
When you breathe into my mouth it’s like I’m in space with no space-suit,
like that guy, Felix Bathwater, but falling with no parachute.
Your body is a roadmap of story-tales in a language I learned in my sleep.
You’ve been to the Crab Nebula and come back with old-lady hands,
living proof you’ve lived a thousand lives, a vampire like me.
(Ach! It is so lonely, out here in eternity.)
Climb into the side-car of my psychedelic laser-rocket,
read my skin and pick out a star-path, via Orion maybe.
Listen. You hear that? That insistent piano music?
It’s the Super-Mario Star Power-up and look, disco lights blaze from our mouths
as we break the sound barrier like that guy, Felix Gallbladder.
I feel your polyp connecting to my polyp, our zooids merging
into a slimy super-being, a Vampiric Tiger-Bear O’ War,
riding a Goddamn laser-rocket.
And with great power comes great responsibility, but fuck that; let us roar.
Let us rule the oceans, the clouds and the void of space like despotic alien overlords,
and even that guy, Felix Gangbanger, will look up in awe
at the iridescent, Boreal trail of our radioactive, venom-spiked tentacles.
They will see us and sing of us forever:
Beware the space-faring Man O’ War.


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