This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, covering works from screenplays to novels to non-fiction books to stageplays to songs and all manner of things in between. It is also one of the oddest, which I have to admit is a large part of the reason I have such affection for it. Maybe 15-20 years ago, on a newsgroup BBS for Writers Guild members, someone posted the following challenge --
Okay, here's the deal. A well known and very good eye doctor (MD) -- needs a little help. So I suggested a contest. The winner get a great lunch or an eye exam. Here's the contest: write a poem or song with the following words:
Always up for an offbeat challenge like that, I wrote the following in a couple hours, hoping to get in first and perhaps put off any other comers. After I posted it, all the other WGA writers posted messages that they were waving the white flag and would not even try to top it. While I know that's a bit much to say about one's work, keep in mind that this was a stupid contest with a very small prize on a topic of idiotic meaning -- so others not wanting to jump in is as high a bar to reach as might seem otherwise.
That said, I'm also pleased that my own eye doctor aske for a copy and has it up in his office. Here it is --
What compels the organelles
To be the way they are?
The mighty mitochondria
Are happier by far.
And to cite the cytoplasm,
They never do complain.
So why in hell do organelles
Just drive themselves insane?
You can tell that every cell
Is happy as a clam.
And endoplasmic reticulum
Is thrilled the way it am.
A cell membrane would never deign
To scream or cry or pout.
So someone tell the organelles
To kindly cut it out.
A vesicle's a messicle
But accepts its weary lot.
And the cheery nucleolus smiles
Though it's clearly gone to pot.
The golgi apparatus works
Just one time in a thousand.
Yet the whining shell of organelles
Will kvetch until the cows come.
They're RNA, they're your NA;
They accept that they'll have strife.
And chromosomes feel right at home
With DNA and life.
A nucleus is centered,
With its feet firm on the ground.
But toll the bell for the organelle,
That insists it's lost and frowned.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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