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WAVY LINES ON THE IMMINENT DEPARTURE OF ALPHA HELIX FROM LA JOLLA FOR THE GREAT SOUTH SEAS TO THEODORE H. BULLOCK AND HIS SHIPMATES O Argonauts, who soon will leave Scripps' rectilinear pier to weave A zigzag passage to Down Under On an undulating wonder, 0Jasons after fishy fleece Beyond an ocean named for peace, Departing for your cruel accrual From a town whose name meansjewel: Subject to that hypnotic Muse Whose passes charmed you all to choose A torsion for your vessel's prow, 1 find myselfinspired now To give you scientists—who'd see us All call things like Carl Linnaeus, Ifnot design experiments Cross-correlating chance events— A Graeco-Latin toast: Adfelix Tempora pro Alpha Helix! I fear that Adriatic matrix Tempts the verbalist to play tricks, By HELIXing your ALPHAbet's Ten chosen letters till one gets Their only anagram that smacks Ofany hope: AH, I HELP PAX. What freight or ballast can be stowed Aboard a helix that's in code! Forgive me ifI seem to write a 1Ot about your writhing title; Your nomenclature is so fancy It takes the kind ofnecromancy Lexicons would call oneiral To trace the meanings ofyour spiral, And ifmy song seems discontinuous, It's only mimicking your sinuous Wake, as through the seas you coil To replicate Kon-Tiki's toil. Who'd dare upbraid a braided term Like Helix, though it seems to squirm? So do the serpents that you seek By no less devious technique. Gyration is the normal mode Of motion to an orbit's node; The very planets have been found, Like your good ship, to dial around, And yet one's mind would be as warped As Helix is, unless one carped At claiming that a vessel's name Assured the forward force of same: Too many conchs lie catatonic (Not cylindrical? Too conic?) To think that Alpha's thread can give it Thrust as well as power to pivot. A horse has four legs, even calling Its tail a leg; so that a Pauling Ship name, though it augurs well Does not prove it will auger swell. 8l Some find it bracing to rotate a bit, But astronauts who try to fit Agena butts are down on it, Since spinning dulls a pointed wit, So don't, I pray you, pitch so steep You drill a Mohole in the deep; Maintain a horizontal motion And screw your way across the ocean. Which doesn't mean that you should roll: You're not in hay; and, lest your goal Be missed, obey this last of laws: On land and sea, beware ofyaws. Not only moralists discern It isn't backward to be stern; It's better, seamen have confessed, To be belayed than laid to rest. Degrees offreedom can preclude Enjoyment ofwide latitude; One hundred eighty's not called Date Line Because the Polynesians mate fine. On Christian ships—I don't mean Fletcher, Whose Blighted youth made him a lecher— It's customary to have two, Or half of what the Moslems do: I mean the first and second mates; And since you put out from the States, You surely ought to fear the Lord And pipe no extra mates aboard. No hula dancers will be missed Aboard a synonym for Twist By dizzy crewmen, each a swiller Ofvortices, from sprit to tiller. I hate to bore you with the point A helix gouges out ajoint; Another simile I sing, Of Alpha Helix as a spring Which has contracted, at some length, To stretch the coverage and strength Oftheoretical zoöLogy : LaJoIIa to OaHu , thence to Poonatanga, and That fringe ofcontinental land, Upon which sailors come to grief, The thousand-mile Great Barrier Reef. On to the reef!—Excuse me, please: I did not write those words to tease; The phrase was not meant to be literal. Let Helix not wind up as littoral But rather always stay marine— Not sub- but super-, like a Queen: Like Cleopatra-laden barge, Or, ifher bollards seem that large, Like Liz, Cunard's long well-stacked liner; Or like the slowest boat to China, Except that there, the poker game Is crooked, not the craft's...


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pp. 81-83
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