I have this friend who’s really nice,
Except for a single annoying vice;
Perhaps it’s no vice, just a whim,
Of opposing whatever I tell him.
The sun rises in the east, once I said;
Immediately he then shook his head
“The sun doesn’t rise like a blob of yeast —
It’s the earth that turns from west to east!”
The sky is blue I used to think;
“Fool!” he said. “It’s not blue or pink;
It has no tone, color, shade, or hue —
It’s the air that makes it look so blue!”
The Moon, I thought, lacks an atmosphere
“Nonsense!” said my friend with a sneer;
“Breathing moon air should be a cinch
It has a million atoms per cubic inch!”
Matter is solid, to me it seems;
“Solid?” he said, “in your dreams!
The atom’s nucleus has a tiny place —
“The rest of the atom is empty space!”
In the germ theory I’m a believer;
But germs, he claimed, don’t cause fever:
“If your body feels like it’s aflame
It’s your immune system that’s to blame!”
Blankets, I said, make me warm,
Causing him to rant and storm:
“A source of heat your blankets lack —
It’s your own warmth they reflect back!”
I praised the taste of the sweet orange,
Only to provoke my friend’s challenge:
“If taste you mean and not flavor,
A raw potato you could equally savor!”
Of oxygen’s merits once I spoke;
“That toxic stuff?” he laughed, “what a joke!
While it does help us energize,
Its free radicals one must despise!”
Gorillas and bears are strong, I thought;
My friend said that was a bunch of rot:
“Pound for pound, the puny flea
Easily beats your poor grizzly!”
I’m happy I was born a human being;
“Idiot!” he said, “You’re just not seeing!
If you count your body cell by cell,
You’re 90 percent bacterial!”
Humans, I thought, are an advanced species;
But again my friend mocked my thesis:
“Bacteria evolve in the blink of an eye —
So evolution’s pinnacle is the E. coli!”
Once when I spoke of the “good old days,”
“Nostalgia,” he sighed, “has no true place!
If you look at life through a spacetime lens,
The words past or future make no sense!”
So, is everything I know a false concept?
But even that notion he won’t accept:
“In logic,” he said, “you aren’t so strong —
For if you’re right, then you’re wrong!”
Chandra Shekhar began his career as a researcher in computer vision before transitioning to journalism. He divides his time between Princeton and Coimbatore, India.