All things slime-ish in art and literature.
The first of these delightful poems come from James Fleming in Portland, Oregon. No doubt James has intimate knowledge of our slimy friends since the Pacific Northwest can boast of being home to the banana slug; a mighty gastropod that can reach nearly 10″ long.
They come at night
And eat everything in sight.
Being so stealthy
Has made them moderately wealthy,
Daintily chewing on leaves and flowers
As a way to while away the hours.
As much as we applaud success,
There’s such a thing as wretched excess.
In fact our current working plan
Is to kill as many as we can.
But they slide quietly by
Our expensive garden store supply
Of alluring but toxic paste
Designed for the gastropodic taste.
We even try something as queer
As a swimming pool of beer.
The slugs are as eager to try it
As tourists at the Hyatt.
We hear them around the pool singing,
“THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.”
– James Fleming,
Regard the Snail
That in a narrow room
His tower and his tomb.
His hollow house
Poised like a sculptured wave
Becomes at once
His fortress and his grave.
What gardener has not felt a little twinge of conscience
as we work with nature and against it?
This lovely poem comes from another maritime native.
A Matter of Taste
There is a test of will each Spring
in our cool, damp gardens,
as we arm for the annual uncivil war
with the common slug.
His daily interests are at odds
with ours, as he enjoys the fruits
and flowers of our labor.
His consuming passion is our
undoing. We turn to mayhem
and murder while he merely feeds
his appetite for sweet beauty.
Interview with a Slug
Following is an interview between Master Gardener Jack Rumble of radio station KGLP and his guest of the week.
Jack: Welcome to the Jack Rumble show, Mr. Slug.
Slug: Call me Doug.
Jack: Okay, Doug. Glad you could drop by.
Slug: No problem, sorry I’m late.
Jack: If you don’t mind, I’d like to get right into it. I’m thinking that image-wise this hasn’t been a good year for slugs.
Slug: Well, Jack, slugaphobia is obviously on the rise. Wet spells like we’ve been having tend to fire up people’s primal brain cells. Plus there’s evidence that slugs once ruled the world, so maybe jealosy is a factor.
Jack: I’m not sure ancient history is entirely to blame. People have actual complaints about your behavior in general.
Slug: We are competitive. We mate in public and leave slime trails. People probably expect too much. We’re not the Cirque de Soleil you know.
Jack: I don’t want to seem intrusive —
Slug: Too late.
Jack: Yes, probably so. But when our listeners heard you were going to be here today, many of them had a particular question they wanted me to ask.
Slug: They wanted to know how to make us feel welcome?
Jack: Well, no. They want to know why you won’t eat the slug bait.
Slug: We’re slow, but we’re not stupid. You think we’re going to stop for a chemical bomb when we’re on our way to a lettuce bed?
Jack: The bait is supposed to be irresistible.
Slug: So is Lady Gaga. Maybe a matter of taste. I’m not a big fan of parsnips. Some slugs can’t get enough of them. Is that a hosta over there?
Jack: Yes, I think so.
Slug: I missed lunch. Do you mind?
Jack: No. Go ahead. What part do you think slugs play in world ecological balance?
Slug: This is quite a good hosta. You wouldn’t have any Hollandaise sauce?
Jack: No. I don’t think so.
Slug: It’s a little bland. As far as the big picture goes, Jack, we’re satisfied to be players. We’re eating high on the cabbage, so to speak. We’re pretty good with that. I think I see the trouble here — over-watering. People over-water everything. Mustard? I bet you got mustard.
Jack: Our time is about up. I want to thank Doug Slug . I’m sure our listeners have enjoyed getting information right from the source of one our more irksome garden problems.
Slug: Can I have a doggie bag?
Once upon a time (once is enough) there lived a beautiful girl slug. She didn’t look beautiful because she was always covered in soot and candle wax she picked up while doing all of the housework for her wicked step-mother and two wicked step-sisters. Her name was Slugerella.
In the kingdom where they lived —Slugonia—the king threw a big party once a year and opened the castle doors for any Slugonian in the kingdom who wanted to come.
When Slugerella’s wicked step-sisters heard about the party, they jumped up and down (sort of) they were so excited and began to think about what to wear. Slugerella could only lean on her broom and watch them. “How about me,” she said. “I like parties too.” The wicked step-mother and sisters only laughed and threw candy wrappers at her.
The wicked step-sisters started out early on Saturday for the castle. The wicked step-mother went to the fire house to play Bingo. “Woe is me,” said Slugerella and sat down in the cinders to cry and chew the carpet.
Before long she heard a noise on the roof, and the next thing she knew an old lady in a fairy costume jumped out of the fireplace. “I’m your Fairy Slugmother,” she said. “Do you know you’ve got a fat guy stuck in your chimney?”
Slugerella dried her tears. “I thought you were a trick-or-treater,” she said. “Sorry the house is a mess. What’s up?”
“It’s time for a makeover sweetheart, you’re going to the King’s ball”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I’m the real deal, Kiddo. I got a message on Fairy Facebook that you needed help. First off, let’s get you tidied up. You look like the loser in a cage fight. Hocus pocus—stay in focus.” Slugerella is suddenly a bright and shiny slug. “You’re a good-looking kid under all that mess,” said the Fairy Slugmother. “I had to use my high octane spell-o-matic for that one. Now a ball dress and we’re cool. Sizes two to ten—Ralph Lauren. There, you could be a super model. You need shoes.”
“If this is going to work, Honey. The most impractical, uncomfortable—and therefore most fashionable—things I can think of are glass slippers. Wham-o, there you go.”
“I’m going to travel a mile to the castle in these?”
“Go get me a zucchini.”
“This gets weirder by the minute,” said Slugerella but went out to the garden for the vegetable.
“Okay,” said Slugmother, “I’m on a roll here. Stand back. What rhymes with zucchini?”
“Put it down, and stand over there. Alakazam Alakazar—let’s see what you got in a car.” There is a little rumble and the squash becomes a Ferrari 360 Spider. “There’s your wheels. Get it back here by midnight or I have to pay for another day.”
Slugerella jumped into the car and zoomed off toward the castle, increasing the door size a bit in the process. Fairy Slugmother stood in the new doorway and waved goodbye. “Look at that S car go,” she said
Slugerella was soon at the castle. She zoomed across the drawbridge and into the courtyard. Then she teetered up the stairs in her glass slippers to festivities in the grand ballroom. The wicked step-sisters were there but didn’t recognize their glamorized step-sister, who had found the prince and was oozing her way into his heart “I saw you stalking me,” said the prince. “What lovely stalks you have.”
“The better to see you with, My Dear,” said Slugerella, swiping a line from another fairy tale. She had the prince backed into a corner and said, “I have a question for you.” The prince looked eager.
“Ask away,” he said.
“What time is it?”
“You sure know how to break a spell,” said the prince. “My Royal Rolex says 11:36, January 3, 1522. The party’s just started.”
“Sorry, Prince,” said Slugerella, “I’m on the clock here.” She elbowed (okay, shoved) him and sprinted for the door. No way was she going to make it in the glass slippers, so she kicked them off. The prince picked up one of them and headed for the punch bowl.
Slugerella hauled up at her hovel and tossed the keys to the Fairy Slugmother, who sped off to the car rental agency. Slugerella’s clothes had, as scheduled, turned back to rags, and she got busy covering herself with soot and candle wax.
The wicked step-mother was chewing up the competition at the fire house and hadn’t come home. But the wicked step-sisters had hitched a ride and soon arrived. “What a bust!” one of them said. “You’re lucky you couldn’t go, Slugerella. The prince took to some cheap hussy and nobody could get near him. What happened to the door?”
Back at the castle the next day, the prince was looking at the glass slipper he had picked up when Slugerella had made her exit. The label inside said, Shoes, Boots, and Slippers by Irving Glass. “Real thing,” said the prince. “I’m going to get my minions to shop this around. It’s got to fit somebody. In fact, I’ll marry the girl who can put it on.” The prince was the product of generations of inbreeding among Slugonian royalty and not the brightest.
When the minions showed up at the wicked step-mother’s hovel, the step-sisters tried to jam themselves into the petite glass slipper. There was considerable over-flow. Slugerella had gone back to her old job among the cinders but was spotted by one of the minions. “No exceptions, Sweetheart,” he said. “We’re working off a royal decree here. Stick out your foot.”
Of course the shoe fit like a glove (sock, maybe). Since they were already on the floor, it was hard to tell, but the step-sisters fainted.
The prince was true to his word. After they got Slugerella cleaned up again, there was a royal wedding and a reception featuring the Slugettes, who played slow-dance music. Not long after they got back from their honeymoon inGastropodCity, Slugerella had twenty-three children. She later went into show business and wrote a book, “From Rags to Something a Little Better” by Slugerella, Princess of Slugovia.
Of course she eventually became Queen of Slugovia and traveled toCaliforniawhere she and her children denuded an entire nectarine orchard.