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.

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