Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Lew Welch (1926-1971?)

Trip Trap; Haiku along the Road from San Francisco to New York, 1959

PDF: On bread & poetry.
A Panel Discussion With Gary Snyder, Lew Welch & Philip Whalen
Edited by Donald Allen
Grey Fox Press, Polinas, California, 1973, 1977


Lew Welch:
"All right, now here's a haiku that I wrote --[Laughter] that I'm very fond of. You know those nasty orange slugs? You know them? I have immortalized them. [Laughter.] It's called Redwood Haiku."

Redwood Haiku

Orange, the brilliant slug --
Nibbling at the leaves of

"How I Work as a Poet"
Reed College Lecture,
30 March 1971

Slugs. The Arch-nemesis of the Pacific Northwest gardener. Away out here, slugs think Big! I find slugs in the tops of my pepper plants --tree-climbing slugs! I find them munching on otherwise unblemished tomatoes among the towering vines, far above the bellycrawling gardenscape. What possesses the obviously earthbound slug to soar and munch?

I don't know, but they tax my patience sorely!

I won't use poison, but I have been known to create little slug Beer Gardens and let them Party Down and Die Happy (they crawl right in and drown).

Budweiser. They like Bud.

I'm not kidding, I've tried a few brands and they simply LOVE Bud. I've set out my little milk-carton-turned-Slug-Deathpit-Party-Dome and poured the brew ...as *soon* as the Bud was foaming in the trough, a slug two feet above the ground, ensconced in the crown of my lone surviving pepper plant, strrrrrrrrrretched out those little antenna in the direction of the Brew-Fest ("Is that ...BUDWEISER I smell?!") and immediately began a descent. Made a beeline for the beer. As long as I keep a supply of suds in the garden, slugs leave the plantlife alone.

I do object, however, to the economics of supplying all the local mollusks with booze. Ah, what price organic gardening?

...and Slugs: talk about kinky sex!

In case you haven't studied the life-cycle of the slug, I must warn you, this is not reading material for the faint-hearted.

Slugs are hemaphrodites, they have both male and female genitalia. When two slugs slime up to each other and sparks strike, in their rather sluggish way, each has a long, um, well ...gametes insertion device. They may both insert their ...uh, device, in the other's genital opening and --go for it.

But wait, that's almost the tame part of this...

In the ultimate Wild Kingdom nightmare zone, the problem comes when it's time to retract the respective body parts and go their separate ways. Uh ...sometimes they get , well ...stuck. After reading in detail, I am informed that it is more common when one slug has inserted his respective part while in a dominant position (on top of) the other participant slug. The one on top may find "him"self unable to pull out. He's terminally inserted. What to do?

(Males of my own species may want to use the back button to avoid any further vicarious trauma before I continue my tale of gastropod woe...)

Well, slugs seem fairly pragmatic about the whole thing. Sometimes, through sheer determined, persistent attempts to crawl away from the other slug, the stretched and straining genital member will finally --SNAP!


Or perhaps even more ghoulishly, if this doesn't work, the second slug will "helpfully" attempt to release the tethered one by twisting around and chewing on the tortuously extended member, eventually chewing right through it. Sometimes the entrapped one will join in and start chewing through his own member, himself! Now, that's desperation! Talk about the ultimate Coyote Date!

I am further informed by my reading that the genital member will eventually regrow. One would hope! (for the sake of many Billions and Billions of progeny --SIGH)

Believe it or not, there is a book dedicated to the glorification of the Banana Slug, and all of these travails and tribulations are gloriously depicted quite graphically ...photographically, in fact. So, for you Doubting Thomases, go to your public library and read up on slugs...A Tale Too Terrible to Be Anything But True!:-)

And humans thought their reproductive rituals were troublesome, HA!