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House and Garden

Silverfish

Oh little leviathan of the insect kingdom
I thought you were mythical, like Robin Hood in England
I thought you’d been made up as a bit of a joke
By a graphic designer named Alan who smoked
Pencil in hand and a pipe in his jaw
He’d sit there all day with labels to draw
Some were for fly spray, others for repellent
They’d give Alan a story and a package to tell it

One day his boss had come along with a cry
A wonderous new product had entered the line
“Alan dear boy, I’ve something for you”
“This one kills EVERY insect, it’s brilliant: all-new”
“Every insect?” Asked Alan. “That’s rather a lot”
“Can I fit them all in? I’ve only eight spots.”
“Well how many insects exist in this world?”
Asked the boss, whose brow was now somewhat furled
“Well, there’s flies and mosquitoes”, said Alan. “Fleas and moths,”
“Cockroaches, spiders and ants; that’s the lot”

“Well that’s only seven”, said the boss, thinking wrapping.
“We need one more creature or the artwork looks lacking.”
They paused for thought and both scratched their heads
“Mice?” Asked Alan. “Does it make them dead?”
“No, it’s only for insects,” said the boss, looking worried.
“They need six to eight legs, and preferably scurry.”
Alan gave in, and put his pen in its cradle
“I haven’t seen anything else hiding under the table.”
“Nor have I,” said the boss. “We’re clean out of luck.”
“Alan dear boy … just make something up.”

Packaging was fun, and Alan liked to draw,
But he’d secretly been hoping one day he’d do more
Here was his chance, a challenge divine;
It was time to create his own Frankenstein
And so Alan put his pen down to paper
And started creating a creature with lasers
And guns, and venom, and daggers for claws
An insect that killed things, breathed fire and roared
“Goodness me Alan, this thing will not do,”
Said the boss, he was frightened, “it’s all so brand new”.
“Make something less scary, something less evil”
“Or it’ll never get past the marketing people.”

And so a new insect came to be born,
Without any poison or fangs or sharp thorns
The boss liked the roach head, and the long slinky lines
“But now it’s too harmless, can we give it some spines?”
Alan drew them, and then let out a wail,
He’d accidentally put the barbs on the tail
The boss said he loved it “It’s not a mistake”
“The public will buy it, it’ll sell like hot cakes”
“The tail gives it purpose, a reason for hate”
“It’ll make people kill it before it’s too late”
“And in case they think they’ve only got mice”
“We’ll say it eats paper and clothing and rice”
“Alan, dear boy, a name if you wish?”
Alan thought for a moment and said “Silverfish”.

Head office loved it and the packaging stuck
The new insect helped them sell heaps of stuff
Scientists questioned but never complained
The creature looked common and normal and tame
It was there on the label, and that was the proof
No one was courageous to call out the spoof
But I’d never seen one so I was suspicious
I feared I’d been fooled by a plan quite malicious
Of course I’d seen roaches, and spiders and flies
But a silverfish never once passed my eyes
I’d written it off as a ploy to sell spray
And figured the hoax would be over one day
I figured the creature just couldn’t exist
Because if it did, I would have seen it.

But then late one night on my white window sill
A small creepy insect was sitting there, still
It looked quite familiar, like I’d seen it before
But not on a table, or carpet or floor.
And then I remembered the thing on the can
So off to the kitchen sink cupboard I ran
And sure enough, drawn near mosquitoes and flies
Was the six-legged creature I was supposed to despise
I took aim with the spray and prepared for the kill
But I stopped before the poison could make him feel ill
A moonlight walk was this guy’s only crime
Did he really need punishment with insecticide?
A slow painful death didn’t sound like much fun
So I opened the window and told him to run
In a flick he was gone as my finger went swish
The first, and last time, I saw a silverfish.